The anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya has upped the noises surrounding the building of Ram temple there. Stating that it “needs to raise voice so that it reaches the heart of the courts and ears of the government”, the Sangh Parivar has increased the decibel on an already controversial issue.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was first off the mark. At a condolence meeting for Ashok Singhal, Bhagwat said serious efforts should be made to realise Singhal’s dream of building the Ram temple, at the site of the 16th century mosque.
At another memorial for Singhal, VHP leader Pravin Togadia too joined the chorus. Invoking Sardar Patel, he called for passing a law in Parliament to construct the temple. Gujarat governor OP Kohli and chief minister Anandiben Patel were present at this meeting. Much like Togadia, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot also went as far as saying that BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, believed that Ram temple was in Ayodhya .
Days later in Kolkata, while paying tributes to two brothers who were killed while performing karseva in Ayodhya in 1990, Bhagwat said, “A right mix of josh and hosh is required for constructing the temple.” Tathaghata Roy, the Governor of Tripura, who was present at the event, likened the brothers’ “sacrifice” to that of freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose and Kanailal Dutta.
What is more, Shiv Sena, the sulking partner of the BJP, urged the latter to set a date for temple construction saying that Modi has “the will and the guts to start building the Ram mandir.”
After BJP’s dismal performance in the Bihar Assembly election, the Sangh has been keen on polarising voters ahead of the upcoming elections in four states. The renewed demands for a Uniform Civil Code and abrogation of Article 370 have all been attempts in this direction. But the most alarming aspect in this cacophony is the ‘official’ vocal support to the building of the temple at the site of the demolished Babri mosque. Not only is this a transgression of the rule of law, it is also a challenge to the judicial process.
The espousing of such divisive agendas, especially by those holding constitutional posts, add to the worries of civil society already alarmed by curbs on creative and academic freedom. If the government is serious about its stated position on plurality, then it should send out a strong message and restrain the various actors. After all, didn’t the prime minister say, Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas?