‘BJP Has Raised And Dumped Ayodhya Issue Cyclically’
Krishna Pratap Singh, an author and a civil society voice from Faizabad (UP), says whenever the BJP faces a crisis of sort, it takes recourse in the Ram Temple issue. His views:
Haare ko Hari Naam (the loser finds solace in God’s name). The issue of Ram Mandir for the BJP reminds me of this proverbial truth! Ayodhya issue is integral to the faith of Hindus, but for the BJP it serves only political interest. Whenever their brand of politics is in crisis, and as per their immediate interests, they raise this issue, only to be dumped after their interests are served. The question is: for how long will the BJP continue to follow this predictable pattern?
The BJP came into existence on April 6, 1980, while its paternal organization, the RSS, was born in 1925. The original political front of the RSS, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, was formed in 1951. Ironically, till 1984, they had no clue about the Ram Mandir issue!
Those days, in the five principles of the BJP, this issue did not exist. Those days their scaffoldings were based on nationalism, national unity, democracy, secularism and Gandhian socialism. However, when they witnessed that these ideological principles based on clean and honest politics were not working to their advantage, they started looking for a contentious issue.
In the backdrop of the assassination of Ms Indira Gandhi in 1984, and the Lok Sabha elections held consequently, they got only two seats. Therefore, the entire Sangh Parivar realized that for their political progress, they would desperately need the ‘liberation of Lord Ram’. At the Palampur convention, held in June 1989, for the first time, they raked up the Ram Mandir issue as an open agenda of the party. In 1991, they included it in their election manifesto.
In the days which followed, this became a successful strategy, especially after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992; indeed, they were under the impression that they could even form the government at the Centre in New Delhi in 1996. But they got only 161 seats, and despite being the largest party, it remained an untouchable for the mainstream, secular Indian politics. None of the other parties supported it.
Amidst this crisis, their relentless longing for power only got more desperate. Hence, in 1998, they constituted the NDA, and, dumped this issue in the cold-storage. From 1999 to 2004, they made three different governments in New Delhi, and they kept the Ram Mandir issue outside its agenda all the three times. After losing the 2004 and 2010 elections, they propped up Narendra Modi as a ‘prophet of development’ but, the PM candidate did not even have the guts to visit Ayodhya! It is said that at that time he was trying to make an image-makeover!
Now, after the court judgment, they are all out to take the credit for building the temple in Ayodhya. In reality, they don’t have any moral right to claim this credit.
Peace-loving citizens of Ayodhya had found a unanimous solution in 1986 and agreed on temple-construction. However, the then RSS chief, Balasahab Devras, castigated the then VHP chief, Ashok Singhal, for backing this move. He reportedly said that they should not bother about constructing the Ram Mandir, and, instead, use it take advantage of this chetna (consciousness) — to capture power. This purpose has been served. And, yet, every time the BJP is in serious crisis, or, as and when its internal contradictions get sharpened, they once again squeeze the lemon again. The Ram Mandir alone can never get the BJP an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. Thereby, it has to wait for the resurrection of Modi as a ‘vikas purush’.
Poor Ayodhya and its people! They are the eternal victim of this politics. However, no one can hear their screams anymore. Once the Supreme Court judgment arrived, all the parties accepted it. Then, everyone believed that all polarizations will henceforth be over – once and for all! They thought they could see the transparent waters of River Saryu in Ayodhya. Ironically, with Rs 32,000 crore involved, new twists have emerged. Amidst this, the cold-blooded corporatization in the country has only reinforced a wave of depression in this holy town. As the old saying goes: Hoga kathin aur bhi jeena, Danto ko aa gaya pasina (Life will only become more difficult hereto)
(The narrator covered the Ayodhya issue as a journalist for many years. He is the author of several books including Zero Mile – Ayodhya (Leftword) and Awadhnama, a history of the region)
As told to Amit Sengupta