Babri case: Advani’s career could be pulled down by the mosque that built it
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Advani and other BJP leaders to face trial in Babri mosque demolition case.Updated: Apr 19, 2017 20:54 IST
BJP patriarch LK Advani calls himself the eternal yatri, or traveller.
The moniker probably sits well on the 89-year-old BJP veteran who built his political fortune and that of his party through yatras, or travels undertaken to mobilise public support for what he thought were nationalist issues.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked him and other party colleagues to stand trial for criminal conspiracy in demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya 25 years ago, an order that sealed his political career.
What happened on Wednesday, too, can be traced to the most famous of his yatras.
His Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya in 1990 changed the course of India’s politics, sharpening the religious divide between Hindu and Muslims.
The yatra, a precursor to the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 by a Hindu mob, helped the BJP and Advani tremendously.
Advani emerged as the undisputed leader of the BJP, which saw its influence grow many fold. Between 1989 and the 1991 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s vote share grew from 11 to 20%. Its seats in the Lok Sabha went up from 85 to 120.
The yatra firmly established Advani within the BJP, the Sangh Parivar and county’s politics. He emerged as an undisputed Hindu leader, with a sizable following. It won’t be an exaggeration to say what Narendra Modi is to Hindus today Advani was to them in the 1990s.
“Today, the BJP is the largest political party in the country, thanks to the journey that began from Somnath during the Navaratri of 1990,” reads a post on the BJP’s website.
“The procession that began with a handful of nationalists led by an uncompromising nationalist is today a roaring stream of nationalist fervour. The pilgrimage will be over the day Ram Lalla finds his rightful place in a temple commemorating the sacred site of his birth,” says the post, referring to the party’s promise of building a temple to god Ram at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The “awesome tidal wave of nationalism unleashed by the yatra unnerved the pseudo-secularists” and Jai Shri Ram became more than a traditional greeting.
The demolished mosque resurrected his fortunes and those of his party and on Wednesday, possibly destroyed Advani’s presidential ambitions.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends July and Advani was seen as a contender for the top post.
It is will be difficult for the BJP and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, will push for a candidate who will be tried on the orders of the Supreme Court in a case associated with the country’s worst communal violence that left 3,000 people dead. The order will also give Advani’s detractors a chance to deny him a shot at presidency.
The razed 16th century mosque may just have slammed shut the doors of the Rashtrapati Bhawan on the eternal yatri.
First Published: Apr 19, 2017 15:49 IST