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Opposition watches as call for building Ram temple grows

A majority of opposition leaders prefer to talk on the issue off the record. Others find an easy alibi in, “ Let the court decide.”

india Updated: Nov 25, 2018 07:25 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Shiv Sena supporters perform 'Maha Aarti' ahead of the Ram Temple event to be held in Ayodhya, in Thane on November 24.
Shiv Sena supporters perform 'Maha Aarti' ahead of the Ram Temple event to be held in Ayodhya, in Thane on November 24.(PTI Photo)
         

Gone are the days when opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav, could strike a discordant note and stand firm amid demands for the liberation of what Hindu groups call Ram Janmabhoomi, or Lord Rama’s birthplace, in the early 1990s.

Despite his confrontational stand -- ‘Masjid pe ek parinda bhi par nahin maar sakega (the security will be so tight that not even a bird will be able to enter it) -- Mulayam not only survived in Indian politics, he flourished.

Twenty-six years after the demolition of Babri Masjid, as Hindu groups gather in the city to press for the construction of temple on the same site, the scenario has undergone a drastic change.

The opposition has gone silent and its belligerence has faded before the renewed frenzy with which the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party have rekindled the emotive issue. Those who believed the religious issue has lost its zing have been proven wrong. Preferring to be a mute spectator, a senior opposition leader said, “Let people decide what type of a govt they want to rule the country.”

A majority of opposition leaders prefer to talk on the issue off the record. Others find an easy alibi in, “ Let the court decide.”

The saffron brigade had last tested its strength over the temple issue in 2002 when Hindu religious figures associated with the VHP had organised a ‘shila daan’ ceremony in Ayodhya. It had then lacked the full backing of the ruling dispensations at the Centre and in the state. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the country’s prime minister while Uttar Pradesh was under President’s rule.

Today, the votaries of Ram temple are heading the governments, both in Delhi and the UP, while the BJP’s ideological mentor RSS and its affiliate VHP are spearheading the movement.

The absence of opposition to their plans at any level has given the temple votaries a free field to play in. The Muslims and their leaders are also in a silent mode.

With the UP chief minister, ministers and BJP legislators lending their support, the RSS-VHP combine has been successful in building a favourable atmosphere for the construction of a Ram temple ahead of elections in five states, which will lead up to Lok Sabha polls in 2019, and the beginning of hearings on a title suit by the Supreme Court.

Experts say that any adverse verdict by the SC would be exploited by temple backers. So, while a makeshift temple has replaced the 16th century Babri mosque, the opposition has gone into hibernation taking refuge in the oft-repeated alibi that “the matter is in the Supreme Court”.

Communist leader Atul Anjan said, “The entire disputed site is now under the ambit of the Supreme Court and all parties in the case have agreed to abide by its decision. But the people in power are trying to undermine the authority of the constitutional institutions...Let’s see how the state comes forward to defend the Constitution and the judicial process.” When asked why Communists leaders are not opposing the movement, Anjan said, “ We are observing December 6 as save secularism day.” That was the day in 1992 when Babri mosque was demolished.

Building pressure on opposition leaders, Union minister Uma Bharti said she would request Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP leader Mayawati to help in creating a positive atmosphere for the construction of a Ram temple on the lines of the support extended for the building of the Somnath temple in Gujarat.

First Published: Nov 25, 2018 07:25 IST

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