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Mandir politics again

With elections to five state assemblies and subsequently to the Lok Sabha approaching, the BJP and its Hindutwa brigade ‘s clamour for Ram Mandir is getting shriller. Much to the thrill of the BJP, the media, more particularly TV news channels, are following the BJP agenda quite religiously. The Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir dispute is a subject of prime time discussion of almost all news channels—both Hindi and English—on daily or alternate basis for the past some days. The dispute is under litigation and the Supreme Court of India has listed the title suit of the case for hearing today. Though it is unlikely for the Court to decide on the case today but the Hinudtwa forces have already made their judgment known by raising the din “Mandir Wahien Banega”. It clearly speaks of the public defiance of Hindu extremists that irrespective of the Court judgment, the Ram Temple would be built at the Babri Masjid site. The 500-old mosque was brought down by Hindu zealots led by senior leaders of the BJP—L K ADvani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and others—on January 6, 1992. The demolition of the mosque was followed by a bloody campaign against Muslims across many states, mostly in Maharshtra where 3000 Muslims were massacred by Hindu extremists. Media’s unconditional and unprofessional support to the Hindu extremists can be understood from the fact that the opponents of the move are openly questioned on the issue of their faith. The other day, an anchor of a TV news channel, asked the Congress spokesperson: As Hindu if he supported the construction of the Temple at the disputed site. This is an attempt in utmost unethical way to push to the corner to those who believe in the rule of law and the constitution of the country. This new-found aggressiveness is to the fore unmistakably, a typical reminder that elections are round the corner where emotive issues would be exploited to the fullest extent by the Hindu extremist brigade. Last week, RSS chief Moham Bhagwat, at the customary Vijayadashmi address at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, came out with a newly invented demand urging the Narendra Modi government to bring in a law for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site which is under litigation for long. It reflected a new line of going over the head of the apex court to reach out to the Hindus regardless of what the court may rule. One wonders whether it reflects an apprehension that the verdict may not be as palatable to the Hindutva brigade as it would like it to be. Another the irrepressible Hindutva protagonist, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said he would visit Ayodhya in November with the agenda of belittling the BJP for not honouring its electoral promise to build a temple in Ayodhya. Many a keen observers believe that by linking faith with the “Mandir Wahien Banega” slogan, the BJP-led Ram campaign is aimed at influencing the Supreme Court as well where Hindu judges are hearing the case. Some time back, one heard the Director General of UP police raising slogans of “Jai shree Ram” in an event in Utter Pradesh and swearing that Ram Temple would be built at the disputed site. This indicates that the communal politics has crept in the minds of bureaucracy and police administration as well. Congress, which claims to be a secular in its character, has virtually been pushed to the wall. It is now adopting to a soft version of Hindutwa by ignoring Muslims. That was quite evident during election campaign in Gujrat, UP and Haryana. Even senior Muslim leaders are also not found in demand in the party now. The senior-most Congress leader and former minister Ghulam Nabi Azad recently said that even he was not ignored by his colleagues during election campaign. That is new India that has come up in the past four and half years of BJP rule.