Verdict won’t end political discourse around Mandir
If one thought, like the Congress, that the Supreme Court judgment on Ram temple has “closed the doors” for the BJP to politicise the issue, then it is wishful thinking. The Ram temple issue will continue to be at the core of the future political discourse of the BJP and, in turn, the nation that is perpetually in an election mode round the year. The eventual aim will again be to reap the dividends, though with a different perspective from now on.
The verdict, after all, has armed the saffron party with yet another tool to do some “chest-thumping” and project itself and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “doer” even as it has taken away a major weapon from the Opposition’s arsenal to attack and ridicule the BJP from time to time for failing to honour its oft-repeated promise to construct a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The BJP taking credit for the Supreme Court’s paving of way for the construction of the Ram temple could well be visible in the next few days itself in Jharkhand, where the five-phase Assembly elections start later this month, and then again in Delhi, that will follow suit sometime early next year.
The progress of the entire process — from setting up the controlling Trust to the construction of the temple — will surely be highlighted by the BJP in many an Assembly election in the States in the next few years and in the run up to the next Lok Sabha polls in 2024, by when the temple construction is likely to be completed.
The Congress welcomed the SC judgment with its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying that it has opened the doors for construction of the Ram temple and closed the doors for the BJP to politicise the issue.
In reality, the SC verdict has done the opposite. It has shut the doors for the Opposition on the issue. It has taken away their attacking power, especially, those of the likes of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the Congress on this issue.
Recently, when the controversy over vandalising of Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar’s bust in Kolkata raged on and BJP president Amit Shah offered to get a new statue constructed, Mamata had taken a dig at him asking him to “first make Ram temple, then think of Vidyasagar’s statue”.
The Congress has never been very forthcoming on the contentious issue fearing a backlash from the minority community. It was only during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls that it warily opened up a bit to say it was not opposed to the construction of the Ram temple. And this it did amid a demand by a section within the party to go for a moderate Hindutva posturing, one that led to its then president Rahul Gandhi undertake a temple-hopping spree.
It would be no surprise then to expect the BJP, hereafter, to cite the outcome of the SC verdict and the construction of the temple, as a promise fulfilled and take credit claiming it was only the saffron party that could make it possible.
With the BJP opting for the line, it will be only natural to see Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and other leaders showcase the successful culmination of the 70-year-old case as being the outcome of a strong political will and continuous efforts by the current dispensation.
The promise of constructing a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya has featured in all the election manifestos of the BJP since 1996.
It has been an issue that has propelled the BJP from a mere two-seat outfit to the world’s largest political party (in terms of members) whose writ rules large in 16 States, and which got a bigger mandate from the people to run the Government at the Centre for the second consecutive term in 2019.
It has also been an issue that has defined and shaped the careers and fortunes of the likes of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Narendra Modi himself.
The verdict will shore up BJP’s Hindutva image that had taken a backseat as the party under Narendra Modi sought to project a developmental face. And the BJP would surely not mind the old image gaining prominence again, now that Mission Ram Temple has been accomplished.
Sunday, 10 November 2019 | M Madhusudan | New Delhi
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