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'The BJP has reached its climax'

By ARCHANA MASIH
Last updated on: November 13, 2019 18:53 IST

'Modi will not require the Ayodhya issue because he already has other emotive issues like Pakistan.'
'The BJP does not need the temple for political mobilisation anymore.'

 A Modi supporter holds up a cut-out of a lotus, the BJP's symbol at a rally.

IMAGE: A Modi supporter holds up a cut-out of a lotus, the BJP's symbol at an election rally. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

"The BJP is a formidable political force today. It is at its peak. It may not be possible for it to ascend any higher -- and it should be understood that the BJP has acquired this height even without the Ram Janambhoomi issue," Professor Badri Narayan, social scientist and cultural anthropologist, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

How will the Ayodhya judgment impact the politics of Uttar Pradesh and north India?

If politicians want to indulge in the politics of religious polarisation, then this issue will remain alive.

If they don't rake up this divisive issue in the political discourse, then slowly, over a period of time, the Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir issue will get diluted.

The Babri Masjid demolition was a turning point in India's political history. How will the verdict to this longstanding conflict impact the political-social fabric of India?

Our social fabric will accept the verdict if politicians don't rake up this issue again and again. But if this is converted and used for the politics of mobilisation, then it will continue to dog politics of the present and future.

Since the government has to constitute the temple trust, won't it influence the functioning of the trust?

The Supreme Court has entrusted the government to form the trust, and just like any other government would, this government will also select members of its choosing.

It is to be seen how rational this government will be in selecting those who it appoints to the trust.

What is the way best way forward from here? What does it signify for the Sangh Parivar's desire for a Hindu Rashtra?

I won't say this is a step forward towards a Hindu Rashtra.

The BJP politics supported this demand for a long period of time and now that it has been achieved via a court verdict. It will provide some political advantage to them, no doubt.

Hindutva forces may not want to continue using this as a political issue because it is in the Sangh Parivar's interest that people accept this in the social fabric and the Ram temple is constructed.

But if people like (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President) Asaduddin Owaisi keep it alive, then the Hindu forces will also react.

Ideally, there should be no political mobilisation on this issue, but it depends on how the matter is dealt by both groups.

How will this impact the Muslim minority?

A section of Muslims may have a stake, but ordinary Muslims may not have ties to the Babri Masjid issue. But when you make it an issue of identity and disseminate it -- its influence will be felt as far as it percolates down to.

Will this open the floodgates towards other disputed masjid-mandir sites?

Not in the foreseeable future. As of now, people are happy with the Ram temple. Moreover, the political challenges are also different today, and there is a developmental desire in the population.

This may force the ruling party to look at other issues that directly affect the people.

Maybe in 15, 20 years, another masjid-mandir conflict may be resurrected, but since they are the ruling party and their longstanding demand has been fulfilled, there is no need for them to rake up another similar issue.

The mandir movement brought L K Advani to the zenith and mobilised the BJP as a political force. The movement has fructified under Narendra Modi. How do you see this juxtaposition?

The advantage of the rath yatra was reaped by Advani and the BJP even then. It brought the BJP from 2 seats to 80 in Parliament.

The resolution of this conflict can have two interpretations.

1. That it has brought a desired end to the demand of the community.

2. Modi will not require exploiting this issue because he already has other emotive issues like Pakistan. There are other development issues that Modi has in his arsenal.

The BJP does not need the temple for political mobilisation anymore.

Will it consolidate the BJP's position further?

It is already a formidable political force. It has reached its climax. It now has to maintain that position and this verdict may help the BJP continue holding that top position.

It may not be possible for the BJP to ascend any higher than this position. And it should be understood that the BJP has acquired this height even without the Ram Janambhoomi issue.

Political leaders as diverse as the DMK's M K Stalin and the JD-U's Nitish Kumar and Congress have welcomed the decision. Does this mean there is a consensus of acceptance about this divisive conflict that has dogged the country for nearly 30 years?

It is the verdict of the highest court so it will be accepted by all. No political party wants to go against Hindu public opinion. A Muslim leader like Owaisi can express his reservation, but not a Hindu politician like Nitish Kumar.

The way people have responded with restraint to the verdict, I also feel India has matured.

ARCHANA MASIH / Rediff.com
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