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Are Varanasi, Mathura mosques still on BJP list?

September 30, 2020 13:54 IST
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'If the civil code has to be put on hold, what card can the BJP play if it finds the going tough in the run-up to the general election of 2024?' asks Amulya Ganguli.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and UP Chief Minister Ajay Singh Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath perform the bhoomi puja in Ayodhya, August 5, 2020. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

The assurance given by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that the Varanasi and Mathura mosques will not be demolished in the near future cannot be taken at face value.

For one, the promise may be a subterfuge as it probably does not indicate the Sangh Parivar's various calculations.

For another, it can provide, therefore, only a temporary reprieve for the two places of worship.

Given the Parivar's slogan after the pulling down of the Babri Masjid -- 'Yeh toh pehli jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura baki hai' -- it will be foolish to expect the saffron brotherhood to forget about the two mosques (besides the Babri Masjid) which it had targeted for demolition.

Considering that the Parivar is currently unsure, as the RSS has hinted, about how to proceed on the third item of its Hindutva agenda after the abrogation of Article 370 and construction of the Ram temple, viz, the implementation of a uniform civil code, there is bound to be speculation about the fate of the Varanasi and Mathura mosques on which the stand of its hardliners has always been clear.

The uncertainty about the uniform civil code apparently stems from the fear in the saffron camp that it will carry forward the process of modernisation of Hindu society started by the Hindu code bills soon after Independence under the initiative of the BJP's bete noire, Jawaharlal Nehru.

For the Parivar, completing what Nehru started is anathema.

In addition, there has long been a belief that a uniform code will incorporate the positive features of all the personal laws.

In this context, what Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in Parliament when he was the prime minister is noteworthy.

For, he expressed his appreciation of the Muslim custom of asking the bride whether she approved of the groom before the nuptials could be completed.

'Hamari parampara mein yeh nahin hai,' Vajpayee said, underlining the absence of such a tradition among Hindus.

If, therefore, the civil code has to be put on hold, what card can the BJP play if it finds the going tough in the run-up to the general election of 2024?

The demolition of either the Varanasi or the Mathura mosque is an option for revving up its base of support.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has already called for the amendment of the Places of Worship Act which provides for the retention of the 'religious character' of all places of worship as they were on August 15, 1947.

According to him, the Hindus were ready to forget about the scores of temples destroyed by the Muslim invaders if the three temples of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathua were constructed.

Of the three, work has started on the Ayodhya temple; now, 'Kashi, Mathura baki hai'.

It remains to be seen if and when the Parivar rectifies this lacuna.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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