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Poll-time devotion

Published : Aug 28, 2013, 9:55 pm IST
Updated : Aug 28, 2013, 9:55 pm IST

When the BJP appointed Amit Shah to oversee election preparations in Uttar Pradesh, it became clear that the saffron party would return to its old tactics of playing with religious sentiments.

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When the BJP appointed Amit Shah to oversee election preparations in Uttar Pradesh, it became clear that the saffron party would return to its old tactics of playing with religious sentiments. And the first thing Mr Shah did was to visit Ayodhya and commit his party to the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site. He is an accused in the post-Godhra violence and knows something about stoking communal feelings. But Mr Shah and his master, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who aspires to be Prime Minister, forgot that the Uttar Pradesh administration is now in the able hands of the Samajwadi Party and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The Samajwadi Party has an impeccable record of thwarting the designs of communal forces. When Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), in pursuance of the pre-election communal agenda of the Sangh Parivar, recently sought to mobilise religious sentiments through the “84-kosi parikrama”, the Uttar Pradesh administration lost no time in taking precautionary measures. It should be noted that currently we are in chaitra maas durinh, according to the Hindu religious calendar. No religious yatra is undertaken in this period. The VHP was thus clearly pressing for an irreligious act to further a political agenda at Mr Modi’s behest. The Uttar Pradesh administration ensured that an irreligious act was not committed by irreligious people. The resounding rejection of the VHP’s plan was made obvious when the people of Faizabad refused to participate in its irreligious yatra. Also, none of the “dharm gurus” or religious leaders of Ayodhya came out in support of the political drama being enacted by the VHP. It is evident that the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Sangh Parivar affiliates highlight the issue of the Ram temple at Ayodhya only when elections approach. People have quite rightly recognised the BJP as a party which plays with their religious emotions and gets its sister organisations to inflame the social and political atmosphere. The BJP is not at all serious about the Ram temple. It dropped the issue from its agenda when it came to power at the Centre. For over six years when in office, this party and its alliance partners in the National Democratic Alliance made certain that the Ayodhya question lay buried. Since then, however, the party has not been able to find ways to return to power. Hence, the issue which helped it climb from a mere two MPs in Lok Sabha to 89 is back in prominence as a mobilising tool for purposes of electoral gain. And the man accused of the worst communal violence in the history of India is orchestrating the move in the hope of capturing national power.

$A tool to garner votes, publicity Rajesh Dixit ***

The campaign for the reconstruction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya by the Sangh Parivar should not be perceived in terms of the mosque-temple controversy. The movement has not been an attempt to show any religious community down or to hurt their feelings. Ayodhya is sacred land for Hindus. Many Hindus call it Ayodhyaji with reverence. However, the question of faith has been turned into a political discourse and into a judicial battle by Indian Marxists and Nehruvian historians. Their argument is that the demand for a Ram temple (at the site where the Babri mosque stood) is an exhibition of majoritarianism, and is detrimental to democracy. They question the age-old faith of Hindus and mythological descriptions. There can’t be a bigger travesty than this. The Sangh Parivar received empirical support from established archaeologists and historians to show that originally a temple was destroyed by Islamic aggressors and a mosque was built. The Sangh Parivar began a movement in 1984 by forming a committee to liberate the temple. The mosque which stood there was in disuse. In fact, soon after Independence, efforts began to restore the Ram temple. The Sangh Parivar used democratic means to unmask the pseudo-secularism of successive political regimes which sought to reconstruct Muslim ego through the mosque issue and turned the debate into a Hindu-Muslim dispute. L.K. Advani’s rath yatra addressed the larger question of secularism and nationalism. Had a Hindu, as aggressor, destroyed a temple or a mosque, the answer would have been the same — to reconstruct on the site. There is a parallel in recent history. Look at the case of the Somnath temple. It was destroyed by Islamic aggressors. Soon after Independence, the Union government undertook a project to reconstruct the temple, in spite of dissent from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, took the lead in the matter. No one can allege that he was playing politics. However, the votebank politics of the Congress and its ilk has made secularism hostage to minority appeasement. The pity is that even the “84-kosi parikrama” led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was suppressed by the Uttar Pradesh government with the endorsement of the pseudo-secular forces. Their untenable logic was that the VHP’s programme would disrupt law and order. Such thinking unmasks their undemocratic character. Can the Uttar Pradesh government ban the Muharram procession taking the plea that it leads to Shia-Sunni feuds The demand to reconstruct the Ram temple represents the collective subconsciousness of Hindus while its opposition represents conscious votebank politics. The Sangh Parivar is not resorting to politics in undertaking a religious yatra.

$Ayodhya is sacred for Hindus Rakesh Sinha ***