With an eye on 2019 general elections, the ruling BJP and RSS have begun working overtime to resolve the long pending Ram temple in Ayodhya. The BJP-RSS combine was disappointed after the Supreme Court turned down requests for an early hearing in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi title dispute and deferred it to January 2019. Exploring options to fulfil its promise of 2014 election manifesto, the RSS and sants have begun pressing for an ordinance for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. RSS General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi recently stated that the Sangh Parivar would not hesitate to launch an agitation for the temple, like in 1992. Meanwhile, the opposition has accused the Modi government of not taking an initiative to construct the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya in the last four years stating that the BJP wants to keep the 'communal pot boiling for political gain'. The opposition parties are deeply concerned at the situation developing around the SC decision to take up the case of the Ayodhya dispute later.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to CPI(M) politbureau member and former Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat to know the reasons for concern and the BJP's politics on the Ram temple issue. According to the CPI(M), the BJP had officially stated that it shall abide by the apex court judgement. It is now engaging in a volte face as the general elections are drawing close. Led by the RSS, strident demands are being raised for the enactment of a new law for temple construction. This is tantamount to subversion of the judicial process. This is unconstitutional, hence, illegal, stated the CPM press statement.
IC: The demand for building Ram Temple from right-wing party and its affiliates is increasing by the day. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has even said the union government was working on "various options within the ambit of the Constitution to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya".Your comments.
Brinda Karat: The matter is before the Supreme Court. This shows the utter contempt that the ruling party has for the Supreme Court. They want to pressurise the court. In fact, this entire campaign of the Sangh Parivar is because they know that people's discontent is growing against the utter failure of the BJP-led Central and State Governments. They want to promote communal polarisation through such campaigns and divert peoples' attention. It is a cynical game keeping the forthcoming elections in mind.
IC: UP CM Adityanath while visiting Hanumangarhi temple, declared that Ayodhya was the abode of “Ram Lalla” and that there “was a temple (at Ayodhya) and will always be there”. What is the politics behind such a move?
He wants to rouse religious sentiments. That is his DNA... not development but division.
IC: For BJP, the Ayodhya Ram Temple is an important poll plank. The Ram Temple issue also figures in party's election manifesto....if the BJP is making an attempt to fulfil the election manifesto promise... what is wrong in it?
The BJP had stated that it would abide by the court decision. It is now going back on that. When the matter is being heard by the court any such attempt is only an election ploy.
IC: The ruling party and the RSS are blaming the Judiciary for the delay in construction of Ram Temple after the SC decided to defer the hearing on Ram Mandir–Babri Masjid dispute to January 2019. Is it justified to blame the Judiciary?
The ruling party and the RSS want to subordinate all institutions to their own agendas and policies. Every mandate and autonomy of every institution is being subverted. The BJP President had the impertinence to threaten the Supreme Court openly on the Sabarimala issue. They are turning the central Government into a Government of bullies.
IC: The RSS has said that an ordinance would be needed if all other options for constructing Ram Temple in Ayodhya were exhausted. The demand for ordinance is growing. What are the options before opposition if the government brings an ordinance on this issue?
It is an echo chamber of the Sangh Parivar. RSS makes a demand and all the Parivar echoes it. People’s demands are for jobs, price control and peace. The ordinance demand is nothing but an election gimmick. They know it cannot be passed in the upper house.
IC: Are you concerned about the manner in which statements are being made on Ram Temple issue by several leaders of the BJP or its affiliated organisations?
It is shameful and shocking that top leaders of the BJP and RSS are making the most provocative statements. We strongly condemn them.
IC: What will be the strategy of the opposition to stop the BJP and its affiliates from using the Ram Temple issue to its advantage in 2019 elections?
I cannot speak for the rest of the opposition. As far as my party is concerned we have condemned it. We will take the real issues to the people as to how they are misusing religion and religious sentiments for votes.
IC: Do you foresee a repeat of 1992 like situation in 2018-19 ahead of general elections?
People of India will prevent any such attempts.
IC: After coming into power in 2014, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have talked about development, anti-corruption, demonetisation, economy and GST etc. What, according to you, are compelling factors that the BJP and Modi have begun talking about Ram temple issue?
Their utter failure to fulfil their promises to the people. People want jobs, they say make pakodas; kisans want fair prices, they say we have already given it; women want security, they say it is your fault that sexual assault cases are increasing; the gap between poor and rich, inequalities are growing, they say corporates need protection not people and so on.
Q: Do you think the ‘Ram Lalla' issue will help BJP return to power in 2019 elections?
IC: What will be the strategy of the opposition to stop BJP from coming back to power? Will the opposition parties go for pre-poll alliance or post poll alliance. Who will be your prime-ministerial candidate? Will your party support the candidature of Rahul Gandhi for prime ministership?
Each State has got its own political configurations with State based parties playing an important role. In general, the strategy is to minimise the division of votes against the BJP even while the Left will aim to increase its representation and take our alternative programme before the people. For my party, questions regarding support for Prime Minister etc. will be relevant only after the elections.(Published on 12th November 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 46)