Ayodhya 2.0: RSS and BJP go back to basics

A file photo of Babri Mosque. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Delhi, India Nov 02, 2018, 06.56 PM (IST) Kartikeya Sharma

RSS declaration on Ram temple was akin to a carefully crafted ballroom dance metamorphosing into a break dance. 

RSS and BJP for years had maintained that temple was a matter of faith but would patiently wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court on the issue challenging the legitimacy of the land. 

This is the third time BJP has taken political stands which stands in opposition to a judicial verdict for electoral ends.

First BJP gave legitimacy to Jallikattu protest by ensuring an enabling legislation which overturned the court’s verdict. 

The second time BJP openly went against the Sabarimala verdict. This is the third time when RSS has openly criticised the Supreme Court.
 
The press conference not only announced the intention of the possibility of a political mobilisation akin to 1992 but also reaffirmed that commitment to Palanpur Session. 

It was also a veiled threat of patience running thin and even Supreme Court’s view can be subservient to majority sentiments.
 
This brings us to the question as to why Ram Temple has become a burning political issue? What has happened in last 2 years that BJP and RSS have increasingly turned to Ram Temple as an issue to mobilise its core voters? Is it because BJP stumped everyone on the shamshan and kabristan issue?

The answer to this question this lies to the realisation that BJP as a party only remains appealing to its core voters till it remains committed to the idea of cultural nationalism and the majoritarian idea of India.
 
BJP in 1989 adopted Ram Temple as a party issue at Palanpur Session. So, technically it is not a U-turn. It only finishes the ambiguity of patience and long wait. The statement makes it clear that RSS expects the verdict in a certain way and would want the courts to take note of it.

So what happens to glasnost and perestroika which was announced with great fanfare after Mohan Bhagwat’s three-day seminar? Is it a reminder to the government that private member bills be moved and ordinance option should be explored?
 
In my opinion, it all boils down to keeping the expectation of the people high on the issue - Hindu getting victimised by elitist institutions like courts. The idea is to keep the pot boiling. BJP understands that good governance and ‘Grand Alliance’ as a bad idea will not be enough to pull the Modi chariot in 2019.
 
They would require much more than that. Rafale has dented the image of the government and GST’s impact is very much visible on the economy. The talk on the Ram Temple is not an act of desperation. It is based on the realisation that unless and until the politics does not remain centred around cultural nationalism as opposed to multi-culturalism BJP will not be able to stand a chance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

The Palampur Session in 1989 specifically mentioned that the disputed site must be handed over to Hindus either through mutual dialogue or an enabling legislation. It shows that BJP remains committed to the Palanpur resolution. The deviation took place during Vajpayee's tenure when BJP had to deep freeze Ayodhya issue because of an unwieldy coalition.

Today, BJP does not depend on alliance for running the government. The only issue it faces is that if ever they fall short of a majority in future, they could be looking at a very bleak future as the choice would get limited to a few regional parties. They will have very few options.

The decision of 1992 run is also a challenge to parties which commit themselves to a multicultural secular politics. Ayodhya is many things to many people today. For some, it is only about votes. For some, it is about faith. For some, it is about Muslim domination. For some, it is about Ram’s birth. For some, it is a matter of academics. For some, it is about Hindu victimisation by foreign taught babalogs. But foremost, today it should be about the civility of exchange. It is missing on both sides even after the demolition.

Today Ayodhya is at the cusp of deciding the destiny of our country. When Ataturk converted Hagia Sophia into a museum, the world knew where Turkey would be heading. It became a modern secular nation. A temple in Ayodhya will not make India a theocracy, but if the temple is made through coercion then it would definitely mutate us from the idea as we were conceived as nation in 1947 by our founding fathers. It will be far removed from Gandhi’s Ram Rajya.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Kartikeya Sharma

Kartikeya Sharma is Political Editor at WION. When he is not working, you will find him travelling, reading or cooking.

Story highlights

The talk on the Ram Temple is not an act of desperation. It is based on the realisation that unless and until the politics does not remain centred around cultural nationalism as opposed to multi-culturalism BJP will not be able to stand a chance in the upcoming Lok Sabha election in 2019.