The Ram temple movement had catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the centre stage of national politics in the ’90s. Now, its defeat in the Bihar assembly election has once again triggered a churning in the ranks on how to rake up the issue for political mileage.
Amidst a debate on whether the issue may help the BJP recapture Uttar Pradesh, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that he wants to see the temple constructed in his lifetime has given fodder to the saffron brigade as it gears for the 2017 assembly election.
Welcoming Bhagwat’s remarks, the Shiv Sena, ruling BJP’s ally in the politically crucial state of Maharashtra, said the RSS leader should announce a date for the commencement of the work.
Will raking up the Ram temple issue help the BJP? “No issue works for the second time in politics. The BJP has used the Ram temple issue to the optimum, politically. It has tried to reinvent the same in the form of love jihad or cow slaughter. But the issue is not going to work for them again,” says professor Rajesh Mishra of Lucknow University.
“The youth in general is not able to identify with this kind of communal politics. If any two of the three main parties — the SP, the BSP and the Congress — join hands in 2017, the BJP will be nowhere,” says Mishra.
Mishra’s assertions are not unfounded. A debate on intolerance has already put the BJP on the defensive. The much-hyped wave Modi wave too failed to work its magic in the panchayat elections, and any communal frenzy that was generated in the 1990s died down after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
However, not taking any chances, the district administration is on its toes to ensure peace in the temple town and adjoining Faizabad on December 6, the 23rd anniversary of the demolition. Faizabad superintendent of police RS Gautam told HT that heavy police force has been deployed and at 12 important entry points to Ayodhya, barriers have been installed.
So, what will shape the mood of the youth in the 2017? “The trajectory the BJP or other major parties take in the run up to the Vidhan Sabha elections...will shape the mood of the youth,” says Disha Jaiswal, a student at the Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow.
“The party will have to rethink the issue. The youth is more concerned about programmes like Digital India and not about (such) issues,” says SP Pandey of the Footwear Design and Development Institute, Kolkata.
Meanwhile, VHP state spokesperson Sharad Sharma has said the group would commemorate the day as ‘Shaurya Diwas (day of pride)’ and while the Muslim community will observe ‘Yaum-e-Gam (day of sorrow)’ at the residence of Haji Mahboob, a prominent leader of the Babri Masjid movement.