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Nov 13, 2019

#RightSideUp: Ayodhya, Judgment Day

A weekly round-up of voices from the right.

New Delhi: From the Ayodhya verdict to the opening of the India-Pakistan Kartarpur corridor to Maharashtra politics, the days leading up to the weekend and beyond saw a flurry of political and legal activity – pushing the air quality emergency in North India on the backburner, as also the 100-day anniversary of the Kashmir lockdown.

Though the unanimous Ayodhya verdict delivered by the Supreme Court on Saturday by a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has come under criticism, news that the disputed site was going to be used to build a Ram temple was met with much jubilation by right-wing social media users.

Still, many refused to savour this singular ‘victory’ and almost minutes after the verdict was announced, demands for the implementation of a Uniform Civil Code and for ‘the issue of the Mathura and Varanasi mosques’ were regurgitated. The Gyanvapi mosque shares Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, while the Shahi Idgah in Mathura is adjacent to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple complex, and there have been many demands over the years that the land where the mosques stand should be handed over to Hindus.

Upon being asked whether the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has set its sights on raking up these old demands, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at a press conference in New Delhi that “the Sangh doesn’t get involved in any movement. We work towards character building.”

But is the RSS really uninterested in pursuing this agenda. As Mahtab Alam pointed out in a piece in The Wire:

“Even a cursory glance at the RSS’s history and its activities over the years inform us that there is hardly any reason to believe this claim and that it should be given the benefit of doubt.”

The mosques at (from left) Mathura, Ayodhya and Varanasi which are the Hindutva brigade’s targets. Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Swarajya‘s editorial director R. Jagannathan wrote an article this week agreeing on why pursuing “Mathura and Kashi” at this juncture is not the right thing to do, “both for tactical and other reasons”.

In his November 11 article, the reasons he cites are:

“One, the Ayodhya verdict, which went in favour of Hindus, is seen by many Muslims as unfair. They remain in substantial denial about the fact that the Babri Masjid was built over the ruins of an earlier temple. Adjusting to the truth is always a painful process, and needs time… The external situation, where Pakistan is busy upping the ante against India, with China providing vocal support, also cannot be dealt with successfully if internal communal tensions rise. It is not in anyone’s interests, including Hindus who want civilisational justice, to push the envelope on Mathura and Kashi.

Two, there is, in fact, tactical advantage in leaving the mosques in Mathura and Kashi just as they are. In the context of the fact that our history books seldom find the courage to tell the true story of Islamic iconoclasm and temple destruction, the existence of these two structures – mosques built using material from demolished temples – tells the story better than what a history book can do.”

For his third point, he advocates that “Hindus would be benefited more by building new temples that mix modern architectural excellence with traditional approaches” and that “sacred sites must be reacquired peacefully at some future date when Muslims acknowledge what was done in the past and deem it fit to make amends”.

As for point number four, Jagannathan stresses that more than focussing on reacquiring land, Hindus should focus on:

“equally important priorities like eliminating caste discrimination, building unity among various Hindu factions, ending the apathy of ordinary Hindus to issues of discrimination (especially the denial of minority rights enshrined in articles 25-30 to the majority community), ending the use of money power to gain conversions to Abrahamic faiths, and building the intellectual horsepower needed to rewrite our histories in a more balanced way, etc”.

The final goal, he says, should be to “position India as the ultimate Hindu homeland, so that it serves as ultimate refuge for any Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist who is persecuted anywhere in the world”.

As he puts it:

“There are scores of Christian and Muslim majority countries, but there is only one Hindu majority country. We need to keep it that way and not be apologetic about it.”

Also read: Justice A.K. Ganguly: ‘If Babri Masjid Was Still Standing, Would SC Have Had it Demolished?’

A second article by Jagannathan, published November 12, lauds Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “his home minister” for having “got the political bits done early in the second term”, meaning the focus can now be on “taking the economy forward”.

“The two big moves in the first six months of Modi 2.0 were the evisceration of Article 370 and the Supreme Court’s unanimous judgement in the Ayodhya case, which hands over the Ram Janmabhoomi to Hindus and compensates Muslims with five acres of land elsewhere.

By ticking off two boxes in the Sangh Parivar’s agenda, what Modi and Amit Shah have essentially bought themselves is freedom to get on with big reforms on the economic front… So, here’s a prediction: between now and the next budget, India could see some of the biggest economic reforms in Modi 2.0.”

In RSS mouthpiece Organiser, Brig Anil Gupta endeavoured to explain how the Supreme Court’s contentious verdict “upholds the idea of India”.

According to him, the decision taken by the Supreme Court – or ‘temple of justice’ as he puts it – has “proved beyond doubt that despite many evil shadows cast on the secular fabric of India, the nation has withstood all storms due to the ancient culture of tolerance and co-existence inherited by it”.

“The Supreme Court judgement has given a sane message to the nation, to have patience and have faith in the nation’s judicial system. The solution to all the ills and woes and grievances lies in the nation’s judicial system rather than taking law into own hands. It is a message to all the violent and armed rebels in restive North East, Naxalites and left wing extremists as well as the radicalised Kashmiri youth and home grown militants.”

OpIndia, as always, took it a notch up with its reporting – there’s not much point rehashing most of their reports since the website is masterful at consistently twisting stories to present a particular narrative.

Among a slew of articles celebrating the verdict jubilantly, was an Abhishek Banerjee article aimed at celebrating all those who “lived and died for this temple – from the ones who lost their lives to police bullets to the ones who perished in S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express at Signal Falia near Godhra on February 27, 2002”.

Banerjee, who describes himself as “a math lover who may or not be an assistant professor at IISc Bangalore”, writes:

“The struggle for Ram Mandir will remain forever one of the high points of Hindu civilisation. How lucky we are to be witnessing the final chapter in that history.

The first thing to do today would be to remember the five centuries of Hindu lives that were denied the right to worship at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. Today, they live through us.

Then, there are the people who helped raise the struggle for Ram Mandir to a crescendo.

They inspired a whole generation of young Indians who discovered that it was okay to be a Hindu: L.K. Advani, Kalyan Singh, Ashok Singhal, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambhara.

Working in the background at the time was a young swayamsevak, mostly unknown to the public at the time. He is now Prime Minister of India and his government will have the good fortune of building the Ram Mandir.

They did their best to wipe these people out of our memory. To defame them. To stamp them as villains. The truth won.”

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