Issueless BJP falls back on Mandir issue

By Mohammad Shahid

Lucknow: Even as Mahant Gyan Das and Hashim Ansari, the two parties in the Babri Masjid title suit are looking for an out-of-court settlement to the dispute and the Allahabad High Court extending the status quo at the disputed site, the BJP is trying to revive the issue to foment communal tension in the state. Having no development agenda with which to go to the masses in the coming elections to the U.P. Assembly and desperate to refurbish its sagging image, the saffron party has once again fallen on the old Mandir-Masjid issue. If the proceedings at the party’s Mahasangram rally at Faizabad recently are any indication, it would try to play this communal card to polarize voters in the coming Assembly elections.

The Mahasangram rally, part of a series of rallies organised by the UP unit of the BJP to highlight the corruption and failure of law and order under Maya rule, turned out to be more a meeting on the temple issue than what it was meant for. The speakers at the rally, including the BJP president Nitin Gadkari, renewed the party’s old pledge to build a grand temple at the site at all costs. The UP unit president Surya Pratap Shahi went a step further when he described how he used to feel upset at the sight of the symbol of slavery before 1992. A similar feeling Mr. Shahi said ‘overtakes me now when I think of Mathura and Kashi.’ Vinay Katiyar threatened: ‘Babar built the Masjid by using force and we will construct the mandir at the same site using the same method.’

These speeches full of hatred and threats at the rally, besides the party’s bid to rope in the services of rebels like Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh show dearth of constructive issues with the party. In fact, the party’s entire ideology is based on a single word: Hindutva, by which it wants to make India a Hindu Rashtra where all those who do not profess Hinduism will be second class citizens. Naturally, the party finds democracy and secularism alien to it and this mirrored in the speeches of its leaders at the rally.

The saffron outfit has no economic or development agenda and has always thrived on a communal agenda and Muslim bashing. The party blamed Muslims for all terror acts in the country and used to scream day and night that all terrorists were Muslims to prove that the community is anti-national but it exposed after leaders and members of the Sangh Parivar, of which it is an integral part, were found involved in blasts at most of the places in the country. The nation saw with shock and disbelief the conspiracies of these self-styled patriots behind these disruptive activities for which they had been blaming Muslims.

Now afraid of raising this issue, the BJP is trying to get mileage in the coming UP assembly elections by raising the issue of corruption against the Central and the state governments. But it is like the kettle calling the pot black. Government ministers and functionaries, no doubt, are involved in corruption and big scams like 2G, Commonwealth Games and others have come to light recently. But scams are not new to our country. In the past people saw the Coffin scam, Tehalka scam and more recently Karnataka land and mining scams, all during the rule of BJP. In fact, corruption has become a way of life in our country and no party can claim to be above board. That is why even after disrupting Parliament and organizing mahasangram rallies, the BJP did not get the same public response that Anna Hazare mustered within a few days. And the BJP knows it only too well that it cannot save its dwindling fortunes by raising such issues.

In this situation, the saffron outfit is left with no option but to go back to its basic agenda: communalism. And what could be better than the Ram issue. But it is doubtful if even this issue, which the party ignored in 2009 elections when even a hardliner like Narendra Modi did not mention it in his 20-minute speech in Faizabad, will be able to save the sinking BJP ship. A number of seers in Ayodhya who are involved in the temple movement have questioned BJP’s locus standi in the issue post-High Court verdict accusing the party of politicizing the issue. Besides, the younger generation of voters is not so enthusiastic about the mandir-masjid strife as it prefers development and peaceful environment to pursue their careers and lives.