Ayodhya issue is once again in the limelight, thanks to Justice Liberhan. I’ll take up the entire issue from scratch because most youngsters of my generation don’t even know about it.
The Ayodhya debate is a political, historical and socio-religious debate that was most prevalent in the 1990s in India. The main issues revolve around access to the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, the history and location of the Babri Mosque at the site, and whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque. On 6 December, 1992 the Babri Mosque was destroyed by Hindu nationalists, 150,000 strong, despite a commitment to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed. On 16 December, 1992, Liberhan Commission was set up by the Government of India to probe the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It has been longest running commission in India’s history with several extensions granted by various governments. Politicians like L.K.Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were alleged to be influential in the demolition. More than 2000 people were killed in the riots following the demolition. Riots broke out in many major Indian cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
The report of the Liberhan commission was leaked to the media, on the occasion of the Lok Sabha session. Later on, Government tabled the report in Parliament. Once the Liberhan report captured headlines, there were hues and cries all over in the name of Ayodhya. BJP and the Sangh Parivar are hoping that they could use this occasion to bring the temple issue back in the nation’s agenda once again. The other political outfits are demanding action against the persons found guilty by the Commission, who include former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. We have seen an active VHP after a few years on this occasion. They must also be thinking of using this occasion to stage a come back. But is that easy for the BJP, VHP or other sangh parivar outfits to make use of this occasion? I think that it will not be easy for them. I have reasons too to come to this conclusion-
‘Ayodhya’ was not an ordinary issue as far as the sangh parivar is concerned. They aimed at constructing a beautiful Ram temple at the place where the babri masjid stood. Apart from that they have an agenda, which was to bring the Hindu brothers to their fold using the Ram temple issue. In the early 1980s RSS and the VHP gave such an instruction to the lowest level of their organization. The preparation for the Ram temple movement was organized in a manner by which the issue will reach all the villages and the households of the Hindus. See for example the Ram sila pujans and Ram sila yathras, organized in all the villages. People welcomed the programmes with folded hands in every home and village. Such was the importance of Sri Ram in their minds. Hindus organized in the villages above creeds and sub creeds; it was of course in a way a Hindu renaissance. But that was not that evident in the south. The ‘rathayathra’ of L.K.Advani, from Somnath to Ayodhya was also part of that sangh parivar agenda. BJP too was playing its role in the Ayodhya movement. One thing has to be mentioned; this was the most well oiled and well planned programme in the history of sangh parivar in the last 40 years or so. So much understanding was there in the parivar organisations. All of them moved together- with one mind and eye.
Whether the sangh parivar gained anything from that temple movement? I think this is the apt time to have a look at this fact. As I mentioned earlier, the parivar could function like a well oiled engine in this programme. They have succeeded in expanding their base in the hindi heartland too. The victory in Uttar Pradesh was due to this. But whether they succeeded cementing their base? Without any doubt any body can see that the reply is ‘no’. Why? It was really ‘sani dasa’ for the sangh parivar after the 6th December, 1992. The main organization in this struggle was none other than Viswa Hindu Parishad. Where they stands today? It has lost its ground. No more a popular organisation now. No work at the grass root level in most of the states. Just limbing on in most of it’s areas. They are not in a position, organisationally, to organise agitations and even to attract even the young sanyasins to their fold. In states like Kerala, it is evidnet and they are not in a position even to organise an agitation; it has to be mentioned that all these when the state government is taking complete control of the temples in the state in the state including the famous hill temple of Sabarimala, discarding the Devaswom Boards. Again the ‘love jihad’ issue has created anxiety in the minds of the Hindu families….but here too the VHP has failed miserably. It has to be mentioned that the organizations like NSS, SNDP and others came out openly against the love jihad issue.
Now come to the RSS. Do you know what is happening to them in this country? Its organizational base has collapsed; the number of sakhas gone down considerably; so too the number of swayamsevaks. May be they will be getting more money in the way of ‘guru dakshina’ since even the toddy shop contractors contribute generously these days; and the organization accepts the same with folded hands. There is no leader for them who can attract the masses or for keeping the morale of their own sympathizers. All of them are now living with the dreams of the old gay days. BJP’s case too is not that different. Sometimes people may tell that the BJP’s base has widened and strengthened since 1992. They may even point out that the party came to power at the centre after 1992. That is true. They ruled the country under Vajpayee. But one should not forget that the same party was routed out in Uthar Pradesh, the battle ground of the temple movement. They were ruling the U.P without the help of any other party. But they finished fourth and fifth in the recent elections held in that state. What happened to them? What was the reason? Nobody, including those in the BJP will now believe that they will be able to stage a comeback in the next one decade or so. Not only the BJP; the entire sangh parivar lost its ground considerably since the Ayodhya demolition.
It is a fact that the 70 per cent of the population of this country are youths. Among those 70 per cent, at least 75 per cent doesn’t have the experience of the temple movement. The organizers of the Ayodhya movement have also failed miserably in their attempts to bring the Sri Ram into the minds of the youths of this country. These youths are running for the sophisticated technologies. They are little concerned about the Ram temple or the Babri masjid. Again one has to understand that the sangh parivar out fits lacks quality agile leaders in these days who can attract the well educated youths of this country. They still have no such programmes too. It has to be mentioned that still these people are focusing on the issues like the protection of cows, which could generate very little impact in the modern, educated society.
Are they serious about Ayodhya these days. One may doubt their sincerity as the temple slipped out from their priorities. When Vajpayee government was at the centre, the VHP organized many agitations for the construction of the temple. There were parliament marches, sant sammelans, parikramas, karsevas and what not in those days. VHP leaders used to meet the pressmen daily in Delhi and their attack was always on leaders like Vajpayee and Advani. Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishor, Pravin Thogadia and company were in fact competing among them to attack the BJP men in the government. Where are they now? We haven’t seen any press conference in these days, especially after the coronation of the Manmohan Singh government. Even though they now hold press briefings on some occasions, the Ayodhya or the temple issue never crops up. Neither the parliament march or the karseva or the sant sammelans are there in their agenda in these days. In fact they have no courage to stand up against Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Now let us go to Ayodhya. The temple construction activities were going on at the karsevapuram there for the last few years. Carving of stones, pillars etc. Now nothing is happening there; construction work has come to a stand still, not because everything is over but the decision of the leaders was to stop all the activities. The karsevapuram is almost like a grave yard, according to a media report; we could see only on chowkidar there in these days. The office of the temple reconstruction committee at Ayodhya also is deserted, except a very few persons. The so called prominent leaders of the temple movement rarely visit that office and the temple town in these days. What does it mean? Is it that the RSS and VHP too have lost hope in the Ram temple construction? People will be forced to think in those terms. Recently the sangh parivar organised a national campaign to stimulate their work; the subject chosen for the same was the protection of cow and not the Ayodhya. The bosses of the sangh parivar must have come to the conclusion that the cow may bring better results than the temple issue. In short nobody is keen on the reconstruction of Ram temple at Ayodhya in these days.
One has to think of the effects of the Liberhan commission report in this back ground. The BJP and the sangh parivar is not in a position to make use of it in these days. That may help L.K.Advani and his colleagues in the present leadership tussle in the BJP to a certain extent. But I do think that Advani must be aware, better than anybody else, that this issue also will not help him or his organization in the long run.
So, is there no solution? Yes there is! I believe it is not about the usage of the holy place, but it is about the sentiments of the people in our country. I see these holy places as places of peace and joy, because just worshiping never proves that you are a strong believer of God. So what if a temple was demolished 400 years ago? Should the Muslims of today who are not closely responsible for the demolition be hurt for that? I don’t understand the use of building any temple or mosque. Farmers are committing suicide, children are uneducated! Don’t we have many problems already? Why invite one more? Instead of wasting money in building a temple or a mosque, why can’t the government build a school or a hospital that would be helpful to poor people? This will bring us all to peace. The Government would love to take it up, I believe. Killing in the name of God should be stopped. An eye for an eye will only make the country blind!