The raising pitch over the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya and the fiery rhetoric surrounding the demand have left no one in doubt that it would be made a key campaign theme in the coming general elections. The Sangh Parivar organisations have stepped up the campaign for temple construction after it became clear that the Supreme Court was not in a hurry to pronounce its verdict on the dispute. It is over to politicians now to extract electoral mileage out of the issue by raking up communal passions. A massive mobilisation of over two lakh members of various sects, under the banner of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has pushed Ayodhya town on the edge. It brought back painful memories of the past, stoking communal tension at a time when the need is to bury the ghosts of the past. The scale of the gathering and the provocative speeches that followed were reminiscent of the Ram Janmabhooomi movement of the early 90s. A strong pitch for promulgating an ordinance to facilitate construction of Ram temple, bypassing the judicial route, and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s assertion that the patience of Hindus was running out have only exacerbated the tension on the ground. The way Shiv Sena, a right-wing regional party confined to parts of Maharashtra, sought to raise the pitch and use the temple issue to bolster its political standing is utterly disgusting. It was preposterous on the part of its chief Uddhav Thackeray to claim that Shiv Sena would build the temple at Ayodhya if the BJP failed to do so.
There are clear indications that the BJP would tap into the growing restlessness among its core constituents over the delay in realising their temple dream. Moreover, it would help divert the attention from government’s failure to deliver on its key promises. Though the Ayodhya narrative may now go into the hands of hardline Hindutva brigade as elections draw closer, the saffron party would like to keep the pot boiling to garner electoral mileage. Instead of whipping up passions over such a sensitive issue, all parties must leave the matter to the apex court where the hearing is likely to commence early next year. Either an amicable, out-of-the-court settlement must be explored in right earnest or all the parties to the dispute must abide by the SC’s final verdict. The painful baggage of the past needs to be offloaded and ghosts of the past must be exorcised for the sake of a better future. The mood in the 21st century is one of optimism and hope. There is now an overwhelming yearning among both Hindus and Muslims for peaceful resolution of the dispute and putting the bitterness of past behind them.