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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pick wisely among Ayodhya’s choices

By Swapan Dasgupta

Anticipating the possible fallout of developments involving an issue as deeply contentious as the long-standing dispute in Ayodhya is hazardous. Yet, whatever the Allahabad High Court decides on Friday afternoon, there are at least two certitudes.

First, as indicated by the Cabinet resolution of September 16, the authorities will encourage seeing the verdict in its "proper perspective", as "part of a judicial process". In other words, an appeal to the Supreme Court by the losing side is more or less obligatory. Returning the mandir-masjid dispute to the judicial slow cooker will ensure that any resolution (if this is at all possible) of this delicate problem will be put off till another day. For the moment, the pujas of Ram lalla won't be disturbed.

Secondly, despite the understandable fear of civil strife in the aftermath of the verdict, it is unlikely that either the Commonwealth Games or Bihar elections will be marred by riots. There may well be some localised disturbances but nothing remotely on the scale of the post-demolition troubles in 1992-93. Any rise in the emotional temperature has to be preceded by religious and political mobilisation. As of now, and for a variety of reasons, there are no indications that India is in a mood to revert to sectarian conflict in a big way. This equanimity may well be temporary but as of now it is real.

That the verdict is likely to be greeted with anodyne observations about the "majesty of the law", the "triumph of Constitutionalism" and so on is not to suggest that it will be a non-event. The verdict will inevitably trigger a ferment whose impact will take some time to be felt.

The Congress, which has bitter memories of being derailed by Ayodhya in the 1990s, is understandably nervous about another round of Hindu-Muslim polarisation. General Secretary Digvijay Singh's endorsement of a negotiated settlement—an approach identified with the now-reviled P.V. Narasimha Rao and, subsequently, the NDA Government—would indicate that the Congress is loath to confront a situation where one side nurtures a grievance while the other side gloats triumphantly.

If the Congress is uneasy about the turn of events after September 24, the BJP is on the edge. It has reposed hope in a judicial endorsement of its claim that the Babri Masjid was built on the site of a pre-existing Hindu temple. This would not only establish the moral legitimacy of the movement it so successfully led, but would offset any possible adverse ruling on the title suit. Whatever the judicial pronouncement on the issue of 'adverse possession', if the archaeological and historical evidence are found to be weighed in favour of the Hindu claimants, it would make it extremely difficult to consider shifting the makeshift Ram temple from the 'garba griha' of the erstwhile Babri Masjid.

Politically, a judicial victory would allow the BJP to make the strategic shift it has been attempting since 1998: easing out its image as an exclusivist Hindu party. There is recognition in the BJP that the Ram temple movement has lost its cutting edge in the age of coalitions and economic growth, and is best left to the sadhus and the VHP. A judicial victory in the Ayodhya dispute will enable the BJP to move on, honourably.

A Hindu win on Friday will, paradoxically, facilitate the evolution of the BJP as a conventional, right-of-centre party. In time, if it responds to the emerging India, it could well emerge as the party of aspirations, an alternative to the Congress' politics of entitlements. If Ayodhya is out of the way, the "New BJP" that L.K. Advani once alluded to in 1998 could take shape in the years ahead, with the RSS assuming the role of a stakeholder, not sole proprietor.

However, if the bush telegraph is any indication, the BJP should also be prepared for an adverse verdict on Friday. True, the RSS chief has asserted that in the event of a judicial setback the Sangh Parivar will appeal to the Supreme Court and not deviate from the Constitutional path. However, since the disappointment is certain to be profound, the TV channels may witness angry outbursts by BJP functionaries ranging from the ridiculous to the inflammatory. The party hasn't prepared the political script to handle adversity.

For the BJP the immediate challenge isn't likely to be Muslim triumphalism. In the event of an unfavourable verdict, it is certain to face assaults from two very different quarters. The first will emanate from secularists who will view the judgment as confirmation that BJP is a reckless and abnormal party that must be severely punished for wilfully transgressing the law. There may even be calls for a ban on saffron outfits.

The second assault will certainly be from hardliners who will charge the BJP with betrayal of Hindu interests. This may strike a chord among the recklessly committed and put pressure on the party to revert to Hindu identity politics. The BJP 'modernisers' will resist this regression but they are likely to find the going tough in the face of an emotional upheaval among those who function within ghettos. If the BJP succumbs, it will guarantee itself a place in the fringes.

Today's India seems disinclined to return to the age of sectarian confrontation. The Hindu middle classes that backed the Ram temple movement now have different priorities linked to economic growth. They will be loath to take needless risks in the quest for a Holy Grail.

There are two circumstances in which the mood could change. First, any attempt (now or subsequently) to change the denominational character of the disputed site is certain to invite fierce political resistance. Secondly, if the interregnum between the High Court and Supreme Court judgments trigger Muslim belligerence centred on either triumphalism or victimhood, it could provoke a countervailing response and re-energise Hindu atavism. The BJP could well profit but at an unacceptably high social cost.

This week, Ayodhya will again throw up many future possibilities. India will have to choose wisely.

Indian Express, September 21, 2010

17 comments:

ravinder said...

Swapan da,

your effort at pre-emption of the reaction is fairly reasonable. My own opinion is that both Hindu and Muslim groups have the ability to avoid street fights but what about Pakistani supported terrorists.

IM has already taken up the responsibility for the attack near Jama masjid. They claimed responsibility around afternoon of sunday but even in the evening a certain news channel famous for nonsense was broadcasting the head mullah mouthing Babri-masjid issue. B. Raman sahab in his blog has already analysed the IM mailer and even though he did not say it in so many words but it is obvious the 'Muslim cause/Muslim victimisation' does figure in there.

Or am I reading too much into unrelated incidents.

lets see. 3 days to go.

I do agree with you. The choice has to be excercised wisely by everybody.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis Swapanda !

I would be gratified if both muslims & hindus participate in Sri Ram Temple reconstruction. Am extremely weary of this needless ghettoisation of muslims.

It was an intensely disturbing report by tehelka of what happens inside madrassas to several muslim youths that gave me sleepless nights.

Only Sri Ram ALONE could provide the required fillip for hindus & muslims to come together jettisoning the hostilities for good. That both get the SAME quality & type of edifying education.

Forget the politicians & vested interests.

There are certain noble Hindu Sanyasis like say Sri.Omkarananda of Chidbavananda Ashram Theni , Swami Dayananda Saraswathi of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam who can & WILL do the necessary to make us forge solidarity.

Let us put an end to 'my god is better than your god' charade for good.

Anonymous said...

It is the readings of 'small print' that are disquieting.

It appears whatever be the judgement given , it would not be favourable towards the hindus.

According to our so called law the time preceding Mohammedan Invasion is not taken into account. Hence all the impertinent questions of asking for Sri Ram's Date of Birth & details of His Birthplace.

Hindus are taking the wrong approach by calling it " faith based ". Lord MahaVishnu & His various Avatars are NOT myths.

Where muslims and/or christians can thump their respective Holy Books as evidence & get away with it , us Hindus always get ridiculed when we cite our Holy Texts , Puranas , Ithihasas.

A lot of so called *educated rational scientific minded* hindus are the potent enemies of devout Hindus.

In another hill in Tamil Nadu an Icon of Devi that was thrown by tipu sultan was recently reinstalled by hindus. Only to be jettisoned again by overzealous police & law enforcers egged on by allegedly aggrieved muslims of that area who still continue to revere tipu sultans & hyder alis.

To add insult to injury the archaeological department also wantonly meddles in places where it smells moneymaking potential in the guise of tourism.

Muslims of India have to speak & think in one voice.Making up their minds who they owe their allegiance to.

Hindus living in predominantly muslim countries in the Gulf don't ever agitate or turn into troublemakers clamouring for Temples. We are more than happy to be able to plough back our savings into upkeep of our ancient Temples WITHIN INDIA. Our hearts & minds belong to Hindu Ethos & Hinduism.

Likewise why can't muslims in India yield gracefully with fairness ??

It is so patently OBVIOUS babar & his religion called Islam came INVADING. Our Vedas based Hinduism has always been indigenous to India.

It is a deplorable fact that no judge or lawyer or politician of India truly cares for the Truth.

Anonymous said...

Not just muslims , for evangelicals too land grabbing along with proprietorship over its resources is the powerful motive cloaked behind grabbing places of worship.

In Gulf countries administration including law & order is far superior to India only because they are very strict in not allowing this multiculti pluralism secularism to go overboard.

The same Indian muslims are much more docile and law abiding in Middle East than in India.

Ditto with the converted keralite christians of India. Who are few in number in countries like America & Australia. All their pro churchianity anti hindu rantings & bluster evaporate once abroad.

Like the famous sour grapes logic they fulminate calling them all
"racists" & frenziedly eating Onam sadya meals.Singing jesudas's songs.

The converted idiots are the most loathesome cretins.

Anonymous said...

My mother who is principal of a school in Bangalore received a call last week from some guy who said he is from VHP. She was told something like she should keep the school closed for 1 wk from Ayodhya verdict or the girl students will " feel pain" in rough translation. First question she asked was why only girl students? The guy said "you are a lady you know what I am talking about madam". Her friend is headmistress of a school for disabled kids and got a visit from some guys wearing tilaks and saffron who threatened her likewise. They said your students are already disabled, you don't want them to come to more harm. They contacted the police who advised that they should keep the school closed without even taking down a complaint.

Incidents of goondaism like these make it difficult for even long term BJP voters like us to vote for BJP. This is not good. My mother says Bangalore has been taken over by goondas prior to verdict who are getting ready to attack Muslim places. You are in touch with BJP top brass. Tell them even less people will vote for them in next elections if this kind of thing continues. People want law enforcement from ruling party not total break down of law and order.

Ramesh

Anonymous said...

I dont know what you have been smoking. Hindu identity gave BJP victory in 1998 and victories in UP, Gujarath and Karnataka. BJP had maximum allies when it had Hindu identity. Minorities will never vote for BJP no matter what. BJP will be in the fringes soon since it has refused to learn from past.

JayKumar said...

Only person who can give face lift to BJP is Modi and no one else can carry the responsibility of BJP.

Some one had argued that VHP made call and asked them to keep school closed on that day, when already BJP govt in Karnataka has order school and college to be kept closed then there is no reason why that school needs to be kept open on eve of verdict. I think the guy has not learned lesson from Hassan district episode just a article on Burqa can spark violence then it is verdict on long pending case in secular court.

VHP has done really a good task by asking people to be alert, we all know how much tolerant they are that if they loose then they will maintain peace and calm is the distant dream.

They are so much desperate that continuously Muslims leaders are only coming on TV and print media asking everyone to maintain peace and calm but so far no one from Sangh Parivar has asked to do so. Even they have urged not to distribute sweet who are they to ask us to do so?


Hindus have every reason to celebrate the victory.

Anonymous said...

Not just Ayodhya , why does the Indian Establishment so annoyingly , adamantinely meddle in Temple Management including Chidambaram Natarajar Temple , Tirupathi & several more ? The overhyped overzealous Jagmohan (hindu hindu hindu)likewise imperiously tinkered in some Temple in Jammu & Kashmir. Wanted to hand over Arunachaleswarar Temple in Thiruvannamalai to "intellectual opium eaters" in archaelogical department. Fortunately thwarted by both Pontiff of Kaanchi Mutt & Karunanidhi of DMK Tamil Nadu.

Did they spend sleepless nights at the crumbling of Kalahasthy Temple ? As one of those aam janata I am extremely glad to hear of collapse of structures in Delhi's CWG venue. Am reminded of Sidney Sheldon's " God has lousy timings & a weird sense of humour ".

None of these poltroons know a wee bit about Hindu Dharma Shastrams. Hence have absolutely no right to dictate and call the shots. The quarter baked art of living SSSSRavishankars & similar megalomaniacs also know nothing much other than coming up with appropriate politically correct insipid soundbytes.All that Ravishankar has done is siphon off money from the gullible into building an opulent temple for his own deceased mother in Bangalore.

JayKumar said...

"The quarter baked art of living SSSSRavishankars & similar megalomaniacs also know nothing much other than coming up with appropriate politically correct insipid soundbytes.All that Ravishankar has done is siphon off money from the gullible into building an opulent temple for his own deceased mother in Bangalore."


When Sri Sri raviShankar interfered in political matters?I never saw him meddling in any of the political issues.

On Ramjanmabhoomi he has supported Ramjanmabhoomi and not Babri Masjid.

Why you are shouting on Hindu spiritual leaders why cant you ask those govt you interfere into temple management but same could not even dare to speak about church and mosque?Communist and Dravidian parties.

Moreover no one here is asking whether his lectures are baked or half baked moreover he has not stolen or cheated any one for money what money he has is what we Hindus give it to him, so once money goes from our hand it belongs to him he can do what ever he want when we don't care who are you to say he siphoned money?

Even church gets money from European countries to carry out conversion, so what do we have any information on this account?

Mosque gets money from gulf to carryout terror activities across world what do our govt had any guts to ask those people who get this kind of money to carryout anti-national activity's?

Do we have that much guts to take on church and mosque? We have seen what happened in Hasan district in Karnataka they cant even accept a translated article on Burqa. SO what do you think if verdict comes aginst them they will maintain peace and calm. I don't see that they will. What I will say Hindus need to be vigilant from our side.

Anonymous said...

You can't be that naive. Of course SSRavishankar is not only too politically correct but also interferes in such a way that nothing sticks to him teflonlike.

A lot of hindus have woken up to what a charlatan he is though belatedly. Read what the ex teachers have to report about him & his organization aol.

Make your point. Don't we all know money pours in promoting conversions ?? And that Indian Constitution approves of it.

These Ravishankars & Ammachis etc wield enormous clout certainly not an aam janata like me. Despite their clout have never seriously addressed the issues facing hindus within India as their mission is but self aggrandizement.

Your Ravishankar wears different masks. In The Gulf countries he has made a fortune by peddling his patented ( it is not his but Patanjali's ) hyperventilating Pranayama called Sudarshan Kriya by scrupulously AVOIDING any mention of terms like Hinduism or Hindu. He & his footsoldiers always say " it has nothing to do with religion , it is but stress management .."


Charlatans like him are but marketing Spirituality.

Anonymous said...

A lot of hindus stay enfeebled only because they rally behind charlatans like SSRavishankars.

Earlier he promoted himself as a supporter of BJP promising in hushed whispers he would ensure Congress ( read Sonia Gandhi)would get defeated. In the recent elections in Maharashtra too , he collected enormous amounts of money for himself assuring all the BJP candidate would win by his (faux)" blessings". That candidate lost very badly. But nobody questioned SSRavishankar or where all the millions made went!!

He being uber shrewd has cultivated some " devotees " in Congress party also. There is a separate war taking place among these affluent charlatans SSRavishankar vs Nithyananda and so forth. Earlier it was SSRavishankar vs Ammachi.

This self pimping cult leader SSRavishankar was lobbying ruthlessly shamelessly with the help of his rich devotees in America & Europe for grabbing Nobel Prize for Peace:-((

A lot of hindus are losing owing to such moral turpitude.

In Valmiki Ramayana , Valmiki has so brilliantly highlighted such frailties of human beings- the alleged devotees of Sri.Ram.

Anonymous said...

There are certain muslims who claim by praying daily at a mosque erected in Ground Zero New York, they would be praying for those who got incinerated on 9/11.

Can't we the hindus borrow their such outlandish logic ?

That by rebuilding our Sri.Ram Temple would pray for all dispossessed , bereaved , marginalised , intimidated muslims plus also for the very temeritous holier than thou babar.

Already bollywood's shah rukh khan has started pontificating plaintively (sic)

" God exists in one's heart not in any structure...".

Such inimicals need to be deported to Saudi Arabia along with their besotted fans.

Anonymous said...

In one stroke predatory Indian evangelicals , inimical Indian muslims & corrupt parasitical good for nothing hindus WITHIN India can be disabled if only GOD WILLING , CHINA gets to rule over us.

Yes , I have immense trust in China than government of India that has let corruption become a synonym for India.

Concerned said...

@anonymous, you seem to be using this blog to badmouth Sri Sri. I know many people who have benefited enormously from what you call hyper ventilation i.e. pranayama. Institutions like AOL are generating enormous goodwill for India and Hinduism when Sri Sri goes to countries like Iraq to teach pranayama and sudarsana kriya. I dont know what your motive is in spreading such lies, but Hindus like you are a bane for Hinduism.

BTW, good analysis Sapan da!

sarathy.amudhan said...

Fine analysis Swapanda.
Shri Ramchandraji, has been in the minds of Indians through generations and would rank No. 1 in popularity. Muslims should help the Hindu brothers to construct the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, which is a matter of faith and belief for millions of Indians.
In return a Mosque may be constructed. This could be located in the Shanti Van, forest of peace, near the memorial of India's great leader and first prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, the father of institutional democracy of the country, who always advocated and worked for a secular, equal and free society. This would be a fitting tribute to Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru and what he stood for.

Anonymous said...

Why should hindus come up with such ideas of building a single mosque/mosques in return ?

Money from Saudi Arabia has always been pouring towards proliferation of mosques in India. Islamic countries very explicitly without mincing words always state their charities are meant ONLY for Islamic countries.

In fact , hindus should put an end to subsidizing of haj pilgrimages from Temple collections.

Let Saudi Arabia to shah rukh khans take care of that. The converted muslims of India , Bangladesh & Pakistan are not considered muslims pure by ARABS. The converted know that. The converted hence bare their fangs more than necessary within India while dealing with us hindus. Therein lies the strength of hindus.

As Hussein was allowed to leave for Qatar , let all those who feel intimidated by hindus within India quit India for Qatar , Iraq , Libya , Morocco , Sudan , Saudi & spend their whole lives within plenty of mosques there.

Not just mosques , next it would be agitation for burial grounds.

@ Concerned,

It is hindu charlatans that are a bane for hinduism. They are wishy washy fence sitters. Period.

".. generating enormous goodwill for India and Hinduism when Sri Sri goes to countries like Iraq to teach pranayama and sudarsana kriya."

Keep dreaming like Rip Van Winkle cum Abdul Kalam.All of Ravishankar's sycophants are paid to do damage control.

The Iraqis who were brought into his aol ashram at the expense of hindus donations ( hindu-mulim bhai bhai ) were completely restless & dissatisfied at the vegetarian meals provided FREE during soham soham hyperventilating sessions.

If Pranayama or kriyas can bring Peace , Kurukshetra War would not have taken place at all.

A Seetha would not have got abducted.

Anonymous said...

Eventually Temple of Sri.Ram would be rebuilt in Ayodhya.

However Ram Rajya for Indians is not a given. If so all the existing Temples would have long brought it.

Raamar Paalam , cutely petitely termed 'sethusamudram project' & desecration allowed by bringing in heavy dredging machinery from Norway got its approval from BJP & AIADMK also along with TR Balu of DMK & Congress.