BJP’s rise to the power was based on exploiting the religious feelings of Hindus on the promise of a Ram Mandir, and the bigotry, hatred and polarisation resulting from its Ayodhya campaign.
Once it actually achieved power, it now conveniently switches this issue “On” and “Off” via its Sangh Parivar associates.
Sangh Parivar takes up the cause
The legal disputes between the local Hindu and Muslim groups over the Babri Masjid had been ongoing for a long time, after the idols were placed on the site in 1949. In spite of this ongoing case, communal harmony had prevailed in Ayodhya.
In 1984, Sangh Parivar jumped in.
During 7-8 April 1984, VHP’s Ashok Singhal organised a Dharam Sansad, or a religious parliament at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan. It is here, for the first time, that building a Ram Mandir was listed as an objective to promote and preserve the Hindu dharma.
During it’s National Executive Convention in Palampur in June 1989, BJP, the political arm of the Sangh Parivar, adapted the Palampur resolution. With this, the BJP formally adopted Hindutva as its political-ideological doctrine and decided to take part in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, aimed at demolishing the Babri Masjid and building a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya.
Massive Dividends for BJP
Political exploitation of the Ram Mandir campaign was very beneficial for BJP. It allowed BJP to form a government under Kalyan Singh in Uttar Pradesh in 1991, which later proved crucial in the destruction of the Babri Mosque on 6th December 1992. In the Lok Sabha, it took BJP from a stagnant 6% vote share (and 2 seats) to 20% vote share and 120 seats, in a period of great growth for its political fortunes.
Massive loss to the country
However, this campaign was also directly & indirectly responsible for deaths of thousands of Indians. India witnessed some of the worst instances of communal riots during late 80’s and early 90’s, that could be linked back to the Ayodhya dispute 1. The number in brackets are the approximate official deaths reported for each.
- 1987 Meerut riots, and Hashimpura massacre (~400)
- 1988 Muzaffarnagar riots (100)
- 1989 Bhagalpur riots (~1000)
- 1990 riots all over the country (~350)
- 1992 Post Babri riots all over the country (~1000)
- 1993 Bombay riots, January (800)
- 1993 Bombay Bomb blasts (250)
Mr. Advani’s Ram rath yatra — from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh via Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Bihar — left behind a trail of communal riots. His converted Toyota van was dubbed a “Chariot of Fire” by the India Today magazine at the time.
Worse, the yatra inflicted more lasting damage than any instance of rioting could. It changed India’s vocabulary and brought bigotry out of the closet. Advani’s coinages such as pseudo-secularism and minority-appeasement, were lapped up by his growing following and internalised by large sections of the middle and upper class. Prejudices against Muslims, earlier regarded as offensive, and restricted to private conversations if at all, were now freely aired in the open. The Nehruvian consensus on civility and accommodation broke down, exposing the fragility of India’s famed tolerance. Respect for diversity, held to be a civilisational value and expressed in such ideas as `unity in diversity’, was increasingly being challenged with impunity, and often defeated.
All this shameless exploitation of religious feelings was done in open defiance of the law of the land. In his speeches, Advani used to say:
“Who is the Court to direct us? No one can stop us. Mandir Wahi Banayenge”
None of this was necessary, except for selfish electoral gains for the Pseudo-Nationalists, BJP. Our society had already gone through a similar madness around partition time, and our country’s forefathers very astutely steered the country clear of the communal cancer for a long time.
Various entities of the Sangh Parivar started speaking in different voices after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. While VHP and Bajrang Dal were proud about it, and celebrate a Shaurya Divas (Day of Bravery), BJP and its parent RSS tried to distance themselves from the event.
The RSS has always maintained that the demolition was spontaneous. Justice Liberhan observed that the demolition was pre-planned.
“The preparation was accomplished with phenomenal secrecy, was technically flawless with consistency and assured results…. The theme was power. It attracted clusters of young men to support the hidden agenda. Leaders know how passions are aroused and how to prevent the same; they however always see what would be beneficial to them rather than what would be good for the nation. This is what happened in Ayodhya.”
The Commission also declared that
“The blame or the credit for the entire temple construction movement at Ayodhya must necessarily be attributed to the Sangh Parivar”.
It also described the Sangh Parivar as a “extensive and widespread organic body”. It also said the BJP
“was and remains an appendage of the RSS, which had the purpose only of providing an acceptable veneer to the less popular decisions and a facade for the brash members of the Sangh Parivar”
Chapter 5 of the Liberhan Comission report, E.g. Page 292 (52.3) Justice Liberhan remarked that the BJP state administration under Kalyan Singh showed
“a complete want of honest approach” and “fully connived and abetted the demolition of the disputed structure”.
“The chief minister and his cabinet were the proverbial insiders who caused the collapse of the entire system.”
- The Yatra that left a trail of violence in its wake
- India’s journey towards Hindutva
- List of riots in India, 1986-2011
- What is wrong with the demolition of Babri Masjid?
- Report of the Liberhan Ayodhya Commission of Inquiry
- Ayodhya DeQoded
- How the BJP, RSS mobilised kar sevaks