By: M.R. Lalu
Finally the Ram Temple at Ayodhya is going to be a reality. Its consecration being scheduled for January 22, 2024, the majority of India’s population is going to witness a dream fulfilling moment. Of course, the journey to the effect of its consecration did not come with happy negotiations and peaceful deliberations. It has a long history of struggle and the world witnessed India’s political weather constantly changing ever since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for a grand temple at the birth place of Lord Ram at Ayodhya became an outcry. A society that remained silent and passive until then began to sense a purpose for its unity and the effect of such a movement had seriously delivered a great deal of unforeseeable political outcome that the electorate in the country once thought would never be a reality. That was the real fact, the history of the rise of the saffron politics in India’s political courtyard. Almost all parties from the strongholds of the ruling and opposition camps believed that the minority consolidation of votes would ensure their success leap to the power corridors of the country. And the majority, they thought, would remain a divided group and well calibrated attempts to further divide and dismantle it were always afoot.
The Ram janmabhoomi movement, a socio-cultural one- found reasons to demand and purpose to churn the sleepy sensations of the major chunk of the country’s population. It restructured the political belief systems that otherwise was busy in appeasement politics. All through its journey, the movement for the temple at Ayodhya steadily progressed while adversities wove barriers. But the level of acceptance it could garner was profound. A significant event needs a special reference here. The BJP kept itself out of the entire scenario in the beginning but later became calculative and found chances of fortunes breaking its floodgates of insignificance. It decided to drive its organizational acumen to directly enhance the movement while mixing it with spirituality and politics. The flavor it discovered was well received. The party, in its National Executive meeting at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh in June 1989 decided to officially launch its involvement in the movement. The movement caught fire when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in September 1989 announced its plan to carry consecrated bricks from across the country for the shilanyas (the foundation laying) at Ayodhya. A soft breeze at that began to turn into a terrible storm with a large segment of the country’s population supporting and mobilizing the cause that was buried under the dust of submissiveness and a lethargic forgetfulness.
In his poetic resonance Atal Bihari Vajpayee called the temple a “national aspiration” which according to him should have become a reality without enmity shrieking from the sides of Hindus and Muslims. Other than Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi also demanded emancipation. All three were equally important for the Hindus and the process of rejuvenation of Kashi could almost be finished under the Modi regime. But the conflict which is under the purview of the court on Gyan Vapi is yet to be resolved. Political climate in the country does not insist on one more movement in the line of Ram Janmabhoomi. Neither Mathura nor Kashi would call for it. This could be better viewed from a precise political angle. Through the transformation of the agitation into an earth shattering sensation all over the country, Ayodhya held the real sense of necessity and the fight for the shrine gained Himalayan strength. Veterans in the BJP discovered future prospects as its basic ideological leaning remained with Hindutva. Though not suddenly, the party’s involvement in the movement had made it a recognizable partner that jumped into the fray for a holy temple for Lord Ram in his birthplace in the same way as Kaaba in Mecca has for Muslims worldwide. This was mainly because the parties that existed in India those days chose not to directly be involved in it. Obviously, the Congress party which ruled the country for decades had failed to respond to what the sleeping souls of the Hindu population had been demanding. An aspirational political class emerged from the classic calculative move of the BJP with its firm belief that the emancipation of Ayodhya was possible only if the BJP came to power. Its subsequent manifestos decreed its vision and mission for the same. Undoubtedly, the party was slowly rising from the debris of its failures, piling more and more bargaining power in its political exchequer.
Elections to the 9th Lok Sabha were held in November 1989 and the results threw the ruling Congress out of power with the Janata Dal emerging as the largest single party and V.P Singh with the help of the BJP placed at the helm. In its meticulously calculated move, the BJP with its veteran L.K. Advani mounting on the chariot started the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya. Ever since the consecrated bricks were being carried to Ayodhya by the VHP, the Rath Yatra further pushed the BJP into a more advantageous position. Hundreds of villages and millions of villagers found a spiritual reason behind the politically motivated Rath Yatra by L.K. Advani. The party could convince the electorates across the country to principally believe that the BJP’s intervention would make the ‘Mandir dream’ materialize. Ultimately, an angry mob toppled the dilapidated controversial building into dust on 6 December 1992, bringing the questionable social cohesion of India into the attention of the world and Political flip flops and rise and fall of governments followed. The movements also burst into instances of chaos and skirmishes and agony as it unfolded.
January 22, 2024 is going to be crucial for the BJP and its opposition. While BJP has reasons to celebrate the opposition is yet to make up its mind. Having completed a decade in the government, the party and its most popular leader are going to seek a hat trick opportunity this time. What needs to be seen is the impact of the Ram Temple, the plank that the BJP kicked off most of its political campaigns. Would the inauguration of the temple give the party a “what next” moment? Elated with its accomplishment but devoid of a fresh subject that could single handedly alter the electoral arithmetic in India, the BJP is least likely to once again harp on to an issue in line with Ayodhya. It is not fair to conclude that the party would run short of fresh topics to entice the electorate. It has enough stars in the sky to finger-point, most of them shining bright and effervescent with its successful initiatives. A feeble consolidation of the opposition preoccupied with biting lumps out of each other and with its withering aspirations might further light up the saffron party’s hat trick comeback. And Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the principal opposition would have shrunk into a dwarf size distant shadow in front of Modi, who would initiate the consecration of the temple with his unquestionable spiritual grandeur. However, who would Lord Ram stand by this time would be an interesting moment to wait and watch. (The author is Freelance Journalist)