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Ayodhya’s Ram Temple: A SYMBOL OF PEACE?, By Dr S.Saraswathi, 9 November 2018 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 9 November 2018

Ayodhya’s Ram Temple


By Dr S.Saraswathi

(Former Director, ICSSR, New Delhi)


A nationwide stir is being planned by the Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti (ABSS), an organisation of 127 Hindu sects to pressurise the Government of India to adopt a law for construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya. It convened a meeting of sants in New Delhi on 4th November which was well attended by over 3,000 seers from across the country.


The meeting passed a resolution demanding that the government bring in a law or an ordinance for construction of the Ram Mandir. ABSS, said to be close to the RSS and the VHP, is planning to hold rallies in Ayodhya, Nagpur, and Bengaluru and finally a mega rally at New Delhi to gather support for the law and conduct meetings in 500 districts across India. The Temple Movement led by the ABSS is expressing its protest against the inordinate delay in the construction of the Temple while conveying its expectations that the present government at the Centre could fulfil its demand.


The Samiti is evidently irked over the postponement of the hearing of the Ayodhya case, originally scheduled to begin on 28th October 2018 to January next year and is of the view that construction of Ram Temple cannot be left at the mercy of the judiciary. That this case is not a matter of priority to the apex court to be settled by day-to-day hearing is an important admission   in the settlement of the Ayodhya dispute and seems to have provoked the Sant Samiti to bring pressure on the government while it also disappointed many people anxiously awaiting the court verdict. Even the date of the next hearing is not decided and left to the appropriate bench as it is considered to be politically sensitive to affect even 2019 election.


The Government’s proposal to erect a tall Ram statue may be a temporary solace to the disappointed devotees, but cannot be a substitute for a full-fledged temple. It will serve to affirm BJP’s commitment to build the temple and keep alive the enthusiasm as part of politics.


BJPs Rajya Sabha member Rakesh Sinha is to bring a private member’s bill for construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the winter session. Its fate in the Upper House would be in the hands of political parties adept in creating ruckus and blocking proceedings leading to frequent adjournments and even wastage of whole session. But, elections are approaching and it will be suicidal for political parties to assume positions likely to offend sentiments of large sections of electorate. Ram Temple issue will then be not just an issue for promises, but one for propaganda against one another.


The move compels all parties to take a clear stand on the Temple -- an issue which all parties are politically, particularly in the vicinity of a General Election -- obliged to refrain from opposing. Opposition has to be based on some technical grounds and not on the principle.


Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities Rizvi, is reported to have come out strongly in favour of construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya on the basis that it would help lessen communal tensions. The Commission may consider appealing to the Supreme Court for an early hearing of the case. Rizvi has said that Temple’s construction is the only solution to end the dispute and safeguard the Muslim community from fear and tension.


The Commission’s stand takes us back to 1993. On 7th January 1993, the Union Government issued an ordinance and then passed an Act under which the right, title, and interest in respect of certain areas near the site of Babri Masjid were transferred to the Government of India. The Bill introduced by SS Chavan declared as Objects and Reasons that, “As it is necessary to maintain communal harmony and the spirit of brotherhood amongst the people of India, it was considered necessary to acquire the site of the disputed structure and suitable adjacent land for setting up a complex, which would be developed in a planned manner wherein a Ram Temple, a mosque, amenities for pilgrims, a library, museum, and other suitable facilities can be set up”.


Some critics wish to simplify today’s problem by referring to the reconstruction of Somnath Temple in Saurashtra in 1951 soon after Independence. But, the fact that it was a relatively easy task as no destruction preceded reconstruction to give room for opposition is overlooked. On the contrary, objections came from Hindu political leaders professing secularism to keep the government away from any religious activity or policy particularly in support of the majority community and actively following minority appeasement policy as the duty of the majority community.


Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had pledged that the Somnath Temple, one of the eight Jyotirlinga Temples, plundered by Ghazni Mahomed in the 16th century would be rebuilt. The idea was approved by Mahatma Gandhi on condition that rebuilding should be funded by the public and not the government. When President Rajendra Prasad agreed to inaugurate the temple in 1951, Prime Minister Nehru raised objections on the ground that association of government authorities in any manner would go against the principle of secularism. The President, however, stuck to his stand and said he could not cut himself away from his religion.


Rajendra Prasad’s profound observation that “the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of construction” has acquired deeper and deeper meaning with passage of time.   Destruction of monuments, places of worship, important buildings, towns and cities is characteristic of victors to establish their suzerainty over the vanquished. In many places, religious places become targets of destruction by the invaders to spread their religion. No wonder, the vanquished want to revive their lost treasures.


The Supreme Court’s stand virtually postponing Ayodhya verdict to post-2019 poll has added more political than religious content to the issue and may further complicate the situation. It has become a poll issue. The contenders may not be divided openly on the line of pro and anti-Ram Temple, but on the basis of the speed of construction and magnificence of the structure. Events are proceeding in such a manner that sentiments are raised to a high pitch that even non-Hindus are joining the Mandir Movement.


At this juncture, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s announcement of development projects like airport, hospital, and medical college in Ayodhya deliberately avoiding Mandir has come as a big surprise to friends and opponents of the BJP. It is in fact, no surprise, but repetition of an earlier policy.


In 2003, Ayodhya was in the news after a decade of silence with new efforts for a settlement.  VHP and associate organisations were pressing the NDA government to pass a legislation to facilitate temple construction. Then Deputy PM LK Advani ruled out the possibility of any legislation on the subject holding that a “blend of pragmatism and ideology” was necessary to govern the country. He reminded Ayodhya enthusiasts that much of governance had nothing to do with ideology, but with economic development, education, and providing good infrastructure.  

Ram Temple should come as a symbol of peace and progress and not force and authority.---INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)



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