The controversy over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya dates back to the 19th century, almost four hundred years after the mosque was built in 1528. This debate culminated on December 6, 1992. On that day, breaking all promises, frenzied activists-supporters of BJP, RSS and its affiliates smashed the domes of Babri Masjid in broad daylight. However, by that time the word ‘controversial’ had been plastered on the Babri Masjid through constant propaganda. Then the late journalist Gaurkishor Ghosh wrote a commentary on the front page of Anandabazar newspaper. It was titled ‘Fascism is coming in the name of religion’.
Very few people in India understood it that day. The rise of BJP in West Bengal seems to have angered many readers. But many did not see the future that the veteran Magsaysay award-winning journalist saw with his insight. Especially moderate parties including the Indian Left and Congress. If they understood, maybe this situation would not be like this today. They did not want to learn anything from history.
Soon after the liberation of India from the British on August 15, 1947, the first claim was made about the Somnath temple. The plan to build the Somnath temple was finalized under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. And it was approved by Mahatma Gandhi. The Somnath temple was emotionally associated with the majority Hindu population of Gujarat. And who doesn’t know Vallabhbhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi – both are from Gujarat. In the case of temple construction, it was first proposed to build it with state funding. But Patel neither supported nor allowed this to happen. Somnath temple has been rebuilt with the money given by common people. Now there is much more work going on at the initiative of central and state government (ruled by BJP).
But here the political ideological decision is important. The work of Somnath temple was completed in 1951. Before this, Gandhiji was shot dead by Nathuram Gods, a member of a hardline Hindutva group. The first President of India attended the opening ceremony of the temple. Rajendraprasad. But Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru strongly objected to it. He felt that it was not in keeping with the secular character of India for the highest official of the state to attend the functions of a particular religious community.
If you look, you will see that while the construction of Somnath temple is going on or started, at one time on December 22, 1949 in the winter night, someone kept the doll-like idols of Ram and Sita inside the Babri Masjid. The debate began. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ordered the removal of the statue. Ayodhya was then under Faizabad district. The District Magistrate (known here as Deputy Commissioner) was KK Nair, a man from Kerala. He refused to obey the orders of the two leaders. He was also fired for this. Several days had passed by then. Then the Govindavallabh Panth-led Uttar Pradesh government said it could not be removed due to public sentiment. They try to cover up the problem by locking up the mosque and banning everyone from entering. The case started in Faizabad court. The government has been sitting idly by for years by putting the blame on the courts.
This is how it went. But former Congress President and Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was left out. During his tenure, the lock of the closed mosque was opened. Puja is allowed. Jerbar Rajeev started his election campaign from Ayodhya in 1989 on allegations of Bofors scam, party split, corruption. He also failed to play the trump card of Hindutva to get through the election campaign. He had to sit in the opposition party. And the BJP went from two seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections to political damadol in 1989 to 86. They became the largest single party after the Congress. At the same time BJP formed government in four states. Realizes that their dream of capturing Delhi Masnad is going to come true by now. If they can run properly.
The matter was better understood by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh or RSS, the parent organization of the BJP. For this reason, after Rajiv Gandhi opened the lock of Babri Masjid, organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal took to the field with the demand of regular puja or construction of temple there. So that the blame never falls directly on RSS or BJP. But BJP’s profit is sixteen.
Now the question is, why choose Rama among so many gods and goddesses? It has a sociological and political interpretation for the Hindi-speaking regions of North India. Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee write in their book ‘India: After Independence (1947–2000)’, ‘Hinduism is not an institutionalized religion – it does not depend on the unquestioned authority of a single holy book, nor on the authority of a priestly class that has evolved over the ages. , Hindus have no monotheistic God or specific monotheistic creed. Consequently, there are many religious variations among Hindus. In fact, there are no irrefutable rules for determining who is a Hindu.’ This was the biggest problem with the RSS or other Hindutva organizations in promoting Hindutva. And there Ramachandra came as a savior.
The same authors write, ‘The Babri Masjid-Ram-Janmabhoomi controversy in the early eighties presented them with such an opportunity. Rama holds a unique place in India, so this may infuriate Hindus. Rama is the very embodiment of those values that every Hindu, indeed every Indian, adores. His name touches the hearts of crores of Indians.’ In addition, Ram is present in the North Indian greeting language. When two Hindus meet, they greet each other as Ram-Ram. As everyone remembers, Gandhiji’s last words before he died after God’s bullet hit him in the chest were ‘Hey Ram’. The word ‘Ram’ is indeed deeply rooted in the minds of the people of Hindi speaking regions.
Congress leaders also understood this after the partition of India on the basis of religion. They have used it for about 50 years in a milder way, which is termed as soft Hinduism. And BJP and RSS have gone to the hardline. They have received the result. After winning two seats in 1984, the BJP came to power for 15 days in 1997 and five years in 1999. This is the political significance of Ram or Ram-temple. Even after BJP was in power during this period, Ram Mandir could not be built in place of the mosque. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lakrishna Advani had some fear of public embarrassment or faith in the court. As a result, in a short time they did not succeed.
Narendra Modi took that place. Modi has proved that he is the best among the current Indian leaders, by fulfilling all the agendas of the RSS, the controversial Citizenship Act, the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the construction of the Ram Mandir in place of the Babri Masjid, the new Parliament building – one by one. Today everything in India is Modi. A ideologue of the RSS wrote a few years ago that it is not their aim to keep the BJP in power forever. They want to define the character and rules of the game. So that every political party has to follow that rule to come to power in future. The main condition of that rule is that India is the land of Hindus. No one would dare to do anything that would go against the Hindus. Narendra Modi continues to write the rules of that game. Modi or his party BJP or RSS know very well that they will need more time to finish it. As many methods as there are to prolong that time, they will apply it as themselves. It is therefore very important to establish the life of Purushottam Rama today (December 22, 2024) in the half-completed Ram Mandir. No matter how many objections Shankaracharya raised for this, it should not be accepted. And after only a few months, people have to go door to door to beg for votes. No one knows this vote begging method better than Narendra Modi right now.
As journalist Sravasthi Dasgupta writes, the distance between religion and politics is shrinking, secularism is saying goodbye. And whatever Professor Mridula Mukherjee of Delhi’s Jawaharlal University says, the way the Ram temple is going to be inaugurated is all about politics. A classic example of mixing religion with politics, which is actually called communalism. Be it of any religion. In fact, Modi-like India has no time to listen to this nonsense. A new India is going to be created there, which many people have been dreaming about for the last 77 years.
Author: Executive Editor, Digital Division, Independent Television