Ayodhya verdict: What it means for BJP, govt and Congress
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the Ayodhya verdict, he said that the decision to allow the construction of a temple at the disputed site and an alternative site for the mosque, should not be seen as a win for any party. It’s an idea that he and other leaders have been reiterating in the weeks leading up to the verdict. However, it is perhaps an understatement to say that the verdict is a windfall for the ruling party.
As the bench dismissed the decades-old claim of the Muslim side on the disputed site and ordered the setting up of a trust to build a temple, the BJP’s “Mandir wahin banega” slogan seems to be coming true.
The immediate impact of this is a huge boost for the ruling party. Just three months after it delivered on one of its core promises of doing away with the special status to Jammu & Kashmir by nullifying Article 370 of the Constitution, it is well on their way to delivering the second promise, building the Ram temple. This is the issue which made the BJP a national party and it was on the basis of this that the BJP rose steadily from just two MPs in the 1984 elections to 303 in this year’s Lok Sabha elections. While vikas, or development, features in the Modi phase of the party, the temple issue has been a constant throughout.
Will SC Ayodhya verdict alter India’s political landscape?
And so, at a time when the BJP has taken a hit in the recently concluded assembly elections, this judgment is like a gift from heaven. All those tricky areas that the BJP was having to deal with from the economy to the aftermath of the assembly elections, are now yesterday’s headlines. The inability of Devendra Fadnavis to muster up the numbers to form a government in Maharashtra even 16 days after the results, now seems like just a niggle. The BJP has said it will sort things out and come to power despite the delay, and this confidence got a boost today.
The same holds true for the economy. Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook for India from “stable” to “negative” on Thursday for around 20 companies including Infosys, TCS, HDFC Bank and SBI. The agency cited their close links with the government for changing this outlook. However, what looked like a gloomy front-page headline has overall become an inside-page story today. The Ayodhya verdict has ensured that the priorities for the next week or so have changed. “Our headline-management is automatically taken care of,” as a BJP leader explained.
Perhaps the biggest windfall for the government and the BJP is that the Opposition’s voice now sounds faint. The Congress’s initial reaction to the verdict was that the party “favours the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya”. The same party that was protesting against the removal of SPG protection for the Gandhi family yesterday, now has to stand with the government on the Ayodhya issue.
As the government gets ready to set up the trust that will build the temple, there are a couple of areas of concern. It’s not enough for party leaders to ask for calm and restrain in all sections of the community. ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas’ (Development and trust for all) needs to be implemented in spirit. This means acknowledging that there are those in the country who grieve for what happened on December 6, 1992 (when the Babri Masjid that stood at the disputed site was demolished). The Supreme Court addressed that in the judgement -- “the Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago’’ -- when it ordered that the Muslim parties be given five acres in Ayodhya for a mosque.
This judgment isn’t just about a temple and a mosque but striking the right cord for relationships in the future between diverse communities.