After SC verdict, will Dec 6 have a new symbolism?Updated: Dec 06, 2019 01:16 IST
Ever since Ayodhya’s Babri mosque was demolished in 1992, for 27 years December 6 had been mostly about muscle flexing – Vijay Diwas (victory day) for Hindutva brigade, Kalank (black spot) for those agitating for a mosque.
“Ab kaam poora hua (the mission is complete),” says Nritya Gopal Das, the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief, indicating the Supreme Court’s November 9 Ayodhya verdict has changed things on the ground.
So what would December 6 come to symbolise now?
“May be now Ambedkar’s Parinirwan Diwas would get the importance it deserves. The day was largely overshadowed due to demolition, but now post verdict the Hindutva brigade knows it’s time to move on,” says Professor Badri Narayan of GB Institute of Social Sciences.
“They (VHP and other Hindutva brigade) have already decided against celebrating the day as Vijay or Shaurya Diwas. I won’t be surprised if all political parties now focus themselves afresh on increasing their stake in the Dalit pie in Ambedkar’s memory on this day,” he says.
While Ayodhya saints, VHP and other Hindutva stake holders, focused on the composition of the Trust that would supervise temple construction in Ayodhya, political class outside of the temple town indeed seemed to be busy wooing 21 per cent dalits in the state.
The state’s ruling BJP has rolled out another Dalit connect campaign aimed at reminding the community how BJP had done the most for restoring the glory of Ambedkar.
“In his first press conference after re-joining the BJP following the completion of his gubernatorial stint in Rajasthan, Kalyan Singh on being asked who he thought would do the shilanyaas had said that the said ceremony had already been performed by a dalit in 1989. Coming from Kalyan Singh, who was once the most powerful OBC leader of BJP and who was the chief minister when the Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, this has its own meaning and symbolism,” says Athar Siddiqui of the Centre for Objective Research and Development.
It was on November 9, 1989 that Kameshwar Chaupal, a Dalit, was brought by RSS-VHP to lay the first brick for the proposed temple and Kalyan was referring to this only.
During their meetings in dalit and OBC dominated localities, the BJP is busy playing up the fact how several of the leaders at the forefront of the temple movement were from marginalised and backward classes.
On Thursday, while campaigning in poll-bound Jharkhand, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath whose Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur and its top priests were at the forefront of the temple movement, appealed to people to visit Ayodhya for ‘kar sewa’ (voluntary service) once the temple construction begins. Political experts say Yogi chose the invite carefully as the areas where he campaigned included tribal and backward dominated regions of Juglsalai, Bagbera and Ichagarh.
Some BJP leaders in Ayodhya feel that appointing a dalit or OBC priest for Ram temple could well be the right symbolism.
Post 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BSP sustained series of electoral setbacks primarily due to BJP encroaching on its vote-bank considered the mainstay of former chief minister and BSP chief Mayawati. In 2014 LS polls, the BJP won all 17 reserved constituencies in UP. In 2017 UP polls, the BJP won 70 of the 85 reserved seats in the state and in 2019 Lok Sabha polls BJP continued its domination winning 15 of the 17 reserved seats despite the SP-BSP tie up.
Little wonder rattled by BJP’s sustained attack on its vote bank the BSP chief Mayawati has been regularly targeting BJP. “Merely parroting Baba Saheb’s name won’t help. You must take steps to treat all equally,” said Mayawati.
Samajwadi Party with a loyal OBC vote-bank too has begun efforts to connect with the dalits. In 2012 UP polls, it had won 58 of the 85 reserved seats in UP and of late has opened its doors for leaders of the BSP, majority of them being dalits.
BSP legislative party leader Lalji Verma, however, dismisses theories of party losing its votebank. “It’s all propaganda,” he says.