The Sangh Parivar’s response to the Allahabad High Court verdict on Thursday was one of vindication and guarded jubilation.
The BJP followed suit, in keeping with its revised strategy that it must not revert to aggressive ways that had failed to work in the elections.
Both appealed to Muslims to accept the verdict to facilitate harmonious communal relations.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for moderation and the remark that “there are no winners or losers after today’s verdict” was in tandem with the BJP’s view that the party must not go overboard with the court’s declaration of the disputed place as Ram’s birthplace.
Bhagwat’s first response was echoed by L.K. Advani, BJP’s patriarch, who had led the movement against the Babri Masjid that finally led to its demolition.
“Through today’s verdict, the Allahabad High Court has acknowledged and ratified the age-old faith of crores of people of Bharat in… Sri Ram and his Janma Bhoomi, there are no victors or losers, and it is victory for a national symbol,” Bhagwat said, setting the tone for the Parivar’s response.
Bhagwat urged the Muslim community to forget the past and collaborate in temple construction. “Our countrymen including Muslims must forget all ill-will and hard feelings borne out of the conflicts of the past decades, thus becoming active collaborators in organising necessary constitutional and practical means for building the magnificent temple.”
Later in the evening, Advani, who met senior BJP leaders, welcomed the verdict as the harbinger of “a fresh chapter for national integration and a new era for intercommunity relations”.
Exuding an air of legal vindication, Advani also said the verdict favoured a grand Ram temple.
For the RSS and the BJP, it was a moment for making gestures to the Muslim community on their own terms and appealing to the inclusive, shared culture of India — albeit with a dominant cultural stamp of Hindu primacy.
The verdict — though it will be challenged in the Supreme Court — has provided an interim legal vindication to the “cause” that catapulted the BJP to national centrestage. With this verdict, the party can claim legal validity for the cause that inspired the movement, if not for the demolition of the mosque, BJP leaders said.
“This is a symbolic victory for the BJP, which had gained politically from the movement but lost legitimacy within a liberal, constitutional domain, thus earning a reputation for rabble-rousing and vandalism that it tried hard to shed over the years,” a party leader said.
The VHP, too, welcomed the verdict, though Giriraj Kishore called upon “Muslim brothers” to hand over the Mathura and Kashi sites, too, in a friendly gesture.