After winning Lok Sabha elections with clear majority and forming government in states like Maharashtra and Haryana, recently BJP miserably lost in states like Delhi and Bihar. They also received a major jolt in local body elections in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Maharashtra. The charm of Modi’s waves is fading and people started disowning his party BJP. Now ahead of UP elections, RSS and BJP are again raising Ram Mandir issue to gain votes, as it is very sensitive and sentimental issue for Uttar Pradesh and it is one of the most awaiting issues there. At a time when Narendra Modi government is in reconciliatory mood to push through economic agenda following Bihar debacle, RSS chief has once again raised the Ram Temple issue. On the Babri demolition anniversary on December 6, social media was abuzz with discussions on the contentious Ram Temple issue. Meanwhile, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat asked society to prepare for building a grand Ram Temple like the one in Somnath (Gujarat). In one of the tweets, Bhagwat recalled that Somnath temple was rebuilt with the “efforts” of the then Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the then President had laid the foundation stone. Ram and Sharad Kothari were among the RSS activists killed in police firing on ‘karservaks’ in 1990 when they tried to march to the disputed temple site in Ayodhya. #IndiawantsRamMandir remained one of the top trending topics for hours as people put forth their views on the sensitive issue and justified their demand. While, many demanded a grand temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, others contradicted the view arguing that the issue was being politicised due to the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh in early 2017 even though the final call would be taken by the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, newly re-elected Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar attacked the RSS and BJP over Bhagwat’s remarks and said the saffron party was interested in keeping the issue “alive” for political purposes. BJP merely wishes to keep the Ram Temple issue alive. They have no respect for Lord Rama. They treat Lord Rama as if ‘He’ is a member of their party. Of late, Hindutva leaders have been increasingly demanding the construction of Ram temple, this is because of the death of prominent Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal, who was a key architect of Ram temple movement. In fact, the VHP had on November 28 taken a portion of Singhal’s ashes to the Ayodhya site as the Hindu organisation announced a large gathering on the 23rd anniversary of Babri demolition in an effort to drum up support for the campaign. However, many are there who said that the sensitive issue should not be politicised till the apex court announces its verdict.
The Allahabad High Court in a September 30, 2010 verdict divided the disputed site into three parts, with 1/3 each going to the Hindu Maha Sabha, Sunni Waqf Board, and a Hindu religious denomination Nirmohi Akhara. The order was later challenged and the Supreme Court stayed the verdict and said that status quo will remain. While, the BJP wants to keep all the divisive issues on the backburner, the cadres in the party has been left puzzled by the renewed interest of Sangh Parivar towards the Ram Temple. Welcoming RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on construction of a Ram Temple during his lifetime, the Shiv Sena asked him to announce a date for its commencement.
Mohan Bhagwat’s series of tweets urged society to prepare the ground for it. Timing of comment raised eyebrows as it came when the government just recently held discussion on intolerance in the Parliament. PM Narendra Modi himself adopted statesmanly approach to underlining need for consensus on national issues.
In the meantime, the issue became a reason for embarrassment for the government as it is pushing for the crucial reform Bills. This gave an opportunity to the Samajwadi Party to target the BJP. SP created ruckus in Parliament over Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on Ram temple in Ayodhya. SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said while the issue of temple was pending in courts, a communally tense situation was being created by Bhagwat’s statement. Alleging collusion between government and RSS, he sought action against Bhagwat. Some of his party members too trooped in the Well.
Ram Janmabhoomi is the name given to the site that many Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Rama, the 7th avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu. The Ramayana states that the location of Rama’s birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu River in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. There is a historical evidence for the claim regarding the precise location. Hindu tradition maintains that a temple existed at the site in historical times. In 1528, a Mosque was built at the site by the Mughal general Mir Baqi, and named the “Babri Masjid” in honor of the Mughal Emperor Babur. From 1528 to 1853 the Mosque remained a place of worship for Muslims. Following communal disputes in 1853, a separate area near the mosque was earmarked for Hindus to perform religious ceremonies. In 1949, an idol of Rama was surreptitiously placed inside the mosque. Following Muslim outrage and a legal dispute, the gates to the mosque were locked. In the 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party launched a campaign to build a temple at the site. In 1992, a rally for this movement developed into a riot involving 150,000 people that led to the demolition of the Mosque. Since then, the future of the site has been debated in court. The debate around the history of the site is colloquially known as the Ayodhya dispute.