Ram Janmabhoomi: Bring new law or pack your bags, Parivar tells Modi govt

Topics Ayodhya case

File picture of bricks collected by kar sevaks for the proposed temple at a workshop in Ayodhya. Photo: Sahil Makk
The Supreme Court on Monday postponed holding daily hearings on the Ayodhya dispute until January. With this, the court has restricted the room for manouver on the issue for the Narendra Modi government. The government is now under pressure from Sangh Parivar affiliates to bring in either an ordinance now, or a legislation in the winter session of Parliament, to pave the way for early construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat is on record having asked the Modi government to bring in an ordinance/legislation. Within minutes of the Supreme Court hearing on Monday afternoon, Sangh Parivar activists said either to the media or on social media, that the time had come for a repeat of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of 1992. The razing of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, was preceded by 'kar seva' in much of north India and communal riots.

Some RSS functionaries tweeted that it was time either for the PM to “pack up his bags” or bring a legislation on the issue. They asked "Hindus to hit the streets" to build pressure on the government. Pressure on the government would also increase from disgruntled leaders like former Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Praveen Togadia. Within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaders would struggle to take leadership on the issue.

“The patience of Hindus is running out. I am worried about the consequence if they lose patience,” union minister Giriraj Singh said. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also been supporting the call bringing in a legislation. The discourse around early construction of a Ram temple is set to reach a crescendo as five states, including three north Indian states, go to polls in November and December. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had won 62 of the 65-seats on offer in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The VHP said Hindus cannot wait eternally for a court judgement. Its working president Alok Kumar urged the Narendra Modi government to bring a legislation in the winter session. "The Supreme Court has once again adjourned the hearing. This fortifies the VHP's stand that the solution to the Ram Janambhoomi issue is not in eternally waiting for hearing of appeals pending for over seven years. We reiterate our request to the union government to enact a law to clear the way for building a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace in Ayodhya," Kumar said.

The Sangh Parivar affiliates have planned a big show in Ayodhya and elsewhere in the country on the anniversary of the razing of the Babri Masjid on December 6. The Sangh Parivar hopes to build a narrative around the temple issue at a time the Opposition is asking Modi government uncomfortable questions on its governance record. Incidentally, Rajasthan goes to polls a day after the anniversary of razing of the mosque in Ayodhya.

Interestingly, Congress president Rahul Gandhi began his two-day campaigning in Malwa-Nimar region of poll bound Madhya Pradesh by offering prayers at the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple. Gandhi was clad in a ‘dhoti’ to perform puja at the temple. Ever since the Gujarat polls, Gandhi has burnished his Hindu credentials by frequent visits to temples, including a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in September. It remains to be seen what the Congress response would be if the Modi government were to bring in a legislation on the Ayodhya issue in the winter session of Parliament.

What is certain is the VHP galvanizing supporters for a Ram Janmabhoomi movement. In 2014, Modi had managed to get moderate sections among upper caste Hindus, as well as sizeable sections of Dalits and OBCs, to support his ‘development’ agenda.

Will a Ram Janmabhoomi movement antagonize those who supported BJP because of Modi’s promise of development, or has the party managed to increase its core Hindu support base? The results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh would be a good barometer to assess that. 

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