By the time Lok Sabha debates the Ayodhya issue, the Supreme Court would have given its views on the Centre’s application for allowing religious ceremonies on the undisputed portion of the land under litigation.
The VHP, too, would have held its so-called dharam sansad to consider the issue. However, it is unlikely that the context will be any different from what it is today — or has been since the fateful day when the Babri masjid was demolished. Few will doubt that the same arguments that have been heard in all these years will again be trotted out. What is noteworthy is that, despite the sharp exchanges that are bound to characterise the debate, the same point will be made by everyone — to the effect that all concerned should wait for the judicial verdict, whenever it is pronounced.
Till now, another point — that of a negotiated settlement — used to be made. But now that it is reasonably clear that such a solution is not feasible, the lobbying of the ball back in the judiciary’s court will be emphasised again. What this virtual standstill means is that Ayodhya remains an ungrasped nettle. The only time when a serious political attempt was made to solve the crisis was when Chandra Shekhar, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Sharad Pawar were engaged in talking to the Hindu and Muslim groups to evolve a consensus. But their efforts came to nought. From then on, the judiciary remains the politicians’ only hope.
While they and the country are prepared to wait, the same cannot be said of the VHP whose sole objective appears to be to queer the pitch by threatening agitation. Last year, it created considerable tension by demanding access to the undisputed portion and was finally pacified by the shila dan ceremony organised by the Centre. It has again raised the same demand, forcing the Centre to approach the judiciary. In addition, the VHP reiterates its objections to accepting a court verdict in a matter of faith. None of this is a helpful contribution. But the BJP seems unable to do anything more than advise restraint since its political fortune is linked with the fulfilment of the VHP’s demand. It is only the constraints of the party’s present constitutional obligations that compel it to stick to the judicial path.