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16-31 Dec 2004

The Ramjanmabhumi drama: the post-demolition scene

By S P Udayakumar

With their morale so low after the electoral rout in the 2004 general election and the recent Maharashtra state election, the BJP is desperately trying to breathe some fresh life into their cataleptic politics. The parliamentary hooliganism, the tri-color yatra-trick and the Savarkar gimmicks have blown up on their faces. As it is clear that the minority communities and the dalits have taken a clear stand against the BJP, the party has decided to change tacks. When the bigoted going gets tough, the tough always go for more bigotry, preferably entrenched in piety. L. K. Advani assuming the party mantle is the first step. Hindutva (l. k. a. -lately known as- nationalism) is rearing its ugly head in the form of the Ram temple drama once again.

According to Organiser (November 7, 2004), the RSS mouthpiece, the BJP cadres "finally got the leader who has led them through many a crisis. Scars of innumerable battles constituted his shining armour. He had led his people from darkness to light. The furious ocean had given way to him for leading his people." This Moses of the "Hindus" announced at the BJP National Council at Delhi on October 27, 2004: "The nation eagerly looks forward to the day the makeshift temple at Ram Janmabhoomi is replaced by a structure befitting the greatness of Lord Rama. At the same time, we must be candid enough to recognize that the Hindu anger that exploded on the streets in the early nineties has given way to a patient wait for the new temple whose construction is, I feel, inevitable." It is a matter of conjecture if Advani merely acknowledged the transformation of the once powerful Ram temple drama into an uninteresting farce or he tried to please his parivar brothers by warning that the "patient wait" would explode as "Hindu anger" once again on the streets. After all, Singhals and Togadias are lying just around the corner. And the all India national executive of the RSS met in Haridwar on November 4-6, 2004 and asserted that the Ram temple would be built in accordance with the wishes of the people under the leadership of the VHP.

So the stage has been set. With the RSS lurking behind the screen and reading out the script, the belligerent VHP would play the lead role in the Ayodhya movement. The politically bankrupt BJP would play along to regain the confidence of their brothers on the stage and the larger audience off the stage. In the melee, southern Naidus and somber Mahajans would be booed and booted out. And the cow-belt sanyasins and saffronites would be cheered. The avowed swayamsevaks such as Atals and Advanis would fall in line quickly and retain their prominence until the sun sets on them. The next scene of the Ram temple drama begins now! Giving up the inhibitions on the rule of law and court verdict that they had to put up with as the ruling combine, and realizing the impossibility of bringing in any favorable legislation in the Parliament, the BJP as much as the Sangh Parivar will start insisting on negotiated settlement and try to push the Muslim community to a defensive position.

The Indian civil society and the state need to be prepared for this resurgent campaign of bigotry and should evolve a strategy to call the Parivar's bluff. Before we turn to the best possible solution to this persisting dispute, let us see what has transpired ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
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