The construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya has become inevitable following the judgement of the Allahabad High Court, even though the Supreme Court is yet to give its view on the complicated matter. It is true that a large number of Muslims are extremely disappointed with the verdict that is being described as a ‘panchayati faisla’ (panchayat judgement) by some of the legal eagles and by others as an inconclusive attempt to bring about a permanent closure to the vexed issue. However, the reality is that it will now be extremely difficult to reverse the decision either through a judicial, legislative or an executive process. The Ram Janmabhoomi claim was initially based on faith and, therefore, many of its supporters argued that it was non-justiciable. But with the court giving it a legal sanction, it is now a matter of time when the temple eventually comes up.
The historic judgement can be viewed in several ways. One way of looking at it is that it celebrates the country’s secular beliefs, given that all the three judges, including one from the Muslim community, recognised the area under the main dome of the demolished mosque as the place believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. Another way is to debunk the judgement, which lacks rationality and legal validity according to many legal luminaries by failing to take into account the demolition of the structure, which stood on the land in possession of the Sunni Waqf Board at that point of time. The workable option, which will involve a bit of generosity by the Muslim groups, would be to not oppose the construction of the Ram temple. The logic, even if it may sound legally illogical, is that Lord Ram occupies an important position in the lives of most Hindus and, therefore, by accepting things as they are at present, all round tension on this contentious issue might be defused.
The matter has serious political repercussions. The BJP, which espoused the cause of the temple resulting in its rise in the Lok Sabha with the maximum number of 182 MPs, may want to exploit it but its current leadership lacks credibility on the subject even among members of the Sangh parivar. L.K. Advani, who spearheaded the temple movement, is not as hawkish as he was then and his leadership has been questioned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal. Therefore, unless the Sangh gives the leadership mantle to someone else associated with the movement, it may not find it easy to extract political dividends.
The judgement has put the Congress in a serious dilemma. Its attempt to get back the Muslim votebank has suffered a serious setback with the developments. If it now tries to overplay its obsession with minority politics, the BJP will gain tremendously. The Muslims, on the other hand, will prefer to support Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad instead of backing the Congress, making its subsequent electoral bid in the assembly polls and Parliament very difficult. The Congress has to tread its path cautiously to overcome the lose-lose situation that is fast developing. It has to look at protecting its vote base in the majority community and not lose it because it is certainly not likely to make considerable gains in the minority votes as things stand today.
Matters could become even more complicated once a large number of Hindus mobilised by various sections of the Sangh parivar start going to Ayodhya on a pilgrimage sanctified by the legal verdict. The best options are that an atmosphere of reconciliation under the shadow of the legal verdict should be created by convening a meeting of the National Integration Council to gauge the mood. Secondly, the Centre must take the lead in implementing the decision after involving all sections that were contesting the dispute. Finally, the Congress and the BJP should stand up for the country and not their narrow political interests in facilitating reconciliation.