Ram Temple Back on Political Agenda
From The Editor’s Desk: While gearing for the 2014 polls, all political parties pledged raise the real issues such as corruption, inflation, price rise and unemployment. However, as the Congress sought to strike a different chord, all others just fell in trap and the real issues went to the back burner. With a few months away to the “Mother of All Elections”, the Ram Temple in Ayodhya has made a comeback into the political agenda of the country with all concerned parties trying to derive maximum mileage from it.
It all started during the Maha Kumbh in Allahabad in January-March 2013, RSS, VHP and BJP leaders, including Rajnath Singh attended the ‘Dharma Sansad’, which passed a resolution to launch an aggressive campaign to re-establish Hindu identity and press for a construction of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya. That set the tone for the revival of ‘Mandir Politics’, which we witnessed in 1990s in response to the ‘Mandal Politics’.
The nation has not forgotten the horror of the demolition of ‘Babri Mosque’ in 1992, which led to the a series of communal riots across the country and emergence of extremism in Mumbai and other parts of the country with 1993 Mumbai blasts becoming a blot in the city’s culture of peaceful co-existence and harmony. So far, BJP’s Prime Ministerial prospect Narendra Modi has not spoken anything on the construction of Ram Temple. Rather, he is busy in collection iron from farmers to build a ‘Statue of Unity’ for Sardar Patel. Modi did not even visit ‘Maha Kumbh’ to seek the blessings of Sadhus and avoided attending a religious function in Ayodhya.
But, there is a tacit understanding between the BJP/RSS and VHP not to bury the issue of Ram Temple issue without which the BJP may not be able to win the maximum seats in the Hindi Heartland Uttar Pradesh. The BJP faces tough competition from Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress in this state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats. Unless BJP wins at least 40 or so, they cannot dream of ruling India, as their presence in South and East is very nominal. The ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh’ began the day Modi’s trusted lieutenant Amit Shah took charge and the plan was evident when the VHP tried to undertake the ’84 Kosi Parikrama’ yatra in Ayodhya on August 25.
Although the yatra was foiled by the Samajwadi Party government, the VHP achieved its goal by reviving a dead issue, while Samajwadi Party succeeded in wooing the Minorities with a carrot and stick approach towards the VHP. The message is loud and clear – BJP and Samajwadi Party seek to polarise their voters to sideline the Congress and BSP and extract maximum benefits. While Narendra Modi will talk about development elsewhere in the country, Amit Shah and other VHP leaders will hardsell ‘Hindutva’ in Uttar Pradesh. Will it work for the saffron party? Only time will tell. But, there is little doubt that Lord Ram has returned to Indian political agenda after a gap of 20 years!