Communal politics

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The clamour of voices for building Ram temple is a clear indication of undermining the Supreme Court, which has adjourned the case for the time being. Beginning a fresh discourse on settling the matter by bringing in an ordinance points out to the teeming hurry that the saffron brigade is in to bring the issue out of its bag and ignite it to the maximum possible. The reasons are pretty obvious. The BJP which till a few months ago had been talking about respecting court verdict on the issue has suddenly started speaking about the impatience of the Hindus. After its failed promises of ‘acche din’ and its miserably poor performance with respect to development and economic stability, BJP now wishes to press into full gear its Hindutva ammunition in run up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said earlier this week that an appropriate bench will decide in January next year the future course of hearing on the appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case. The discourse is dangerous for two reasons. It is based on the assumption that the court is expected to decide the matter in favour of the Hindu right-wing groups which have been battling for taking over the land to build a Ram temple on the site where the Babri mosque stood till 1992 when it was demolished by saffron wing hooligans with full patronage of senior BJP leaders. Hypothetically, if the final court verdict does not suit their interests, would the court verdict be met with open defiance? By using the majoritarian discourse of impatience of the Hindus, they are trying to manipulate the court proceedings. Second, the manner in which Ram temple issue is being invoked with sudden bouts of restlessness with BJP leaders openly calling for an ordinance to seal the finality of the issue enhances the dangers of spreading communal tensions, even violence. The veiled threats are becoming more and more brazen with some BJP leaders using the pretext of majority sentiment warning about the dangers of ‘Hindus losing their patience’. The discourse is an indication not of the likelihood of an ordinance that legitimizes the right of the Hindu right-wing groups to build a Ram temple at the disputed site but more of injecting communal venom in the society, spreading fear and unleashing violence across India, especially in pockets where such violence can yield rich harvest of vote bank. In recent months, the changing texture of the discourse of many BJP leaders who had softened their Hindutva rhetoric post 2014 have suddenly begun sharpening their knives. Their stand on Sabrimala, the loudening voices of cow politics are all indicators to this end. The Ayodhya dispute has been a pet project of the BJP. In the 80s and 90s, it began to yield the party rich dividends as the party whipped up communal frenzy and invoked the fear of the minorities. Such discourse, however, has a limited success rate, and its appeal does not go beyond the constituency that is mesmerized by communal and parochial politics with possibility of baiting in some fence sitters. The BJP will not be able to go back to the electorate with promises of development because the party has made no great achievement to this end in the last four years. With ill-conceived steps like demonetization and queering the pitch for investments by creating a climate of hatred, lynching and intolerance, the economy today is in shambles. The BJP hopes to overcome these failures by trying to consolidate its vote bank by playing the Hindu card. This is less likely to work provided the opposition plays its cards intelligently and strategically.