Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes part in 'Bhoomi Pujan' for the construction of Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir, in Ayodhya, Wednesday, 5 August | PTI
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If you watch the news today, there are only two big issues in India: the building of a temple and the messy investigation looking into the suicide of a Bollywood actor. And both these issues seem to be linked to electoral politics.

The Sushant Singh Rajput case is being used by the Bharatiya Janata Party, and its ally Janata Dal (United), to deflect from the growing unpopularity of the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. The Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal opposition is so weak that attacking it alone won’t be enough. Hence, actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has come in handy for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar to ‘deflect and rule’.

There’s a lot in Bihar that needs deflection: the unstoppable growth of the Covid pandemic, floods, the failure of its prohibition law, the poor handling of the migrant crisis, a lockdown that failed to flatten the state’s Covid curve, and a general anti-incumbency plaguing three-term chief minister Nitish Kumar.


Also read: Whose Ram Rajya does Ayodhya temple bring — Gandhi’s or Modi’s? Ambedkar can answer


Mahabharat lost, Ramayana is on

We see the same script play out on a national scale today, with the ground-breaking ceremony for the building of a new temple that appeared to be more like some kind of coronation ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Fans and haters, alike, will talk about Ram Mandir for days.

You won’t feel this is a country going through a historic economic crisis. India’s economic growth was already hurt badly even before Covid, and now the pandemic is taking us into a rare depression.

The triumphalism over the ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday, with Modi crowned as head of a Hindutva state, will make you forget that on Monday India had reported the world’s highest number of Covid cases and deaths. As Modi inserts himself into the story of the Ramayana, India will forget how he had assured us in March that defeating Covid will take only three more days than the 18 days it took to win the Mahabharat.

In the larger canvas of history, the building of the Ram Mandir is one big step in the diminution of Indian pluralism, under which all citizens could be equal regardless of the faith they practiced. But in the limited horizon of 2020, the Ayodhya temple comes as a distraction from a series of Modi’s failures. Since India can not get the Chinese to “disengage” from its border, it must sing bhajans to Lord Ram in the news.


Also read: Unseen photos of how Babri Masjid demolition was planned and executed in 1992


Bhoomipujan is the new Balakot

In that sense, the Bhoomipujan of 2020 is like the Balakot “surgical strikes” of 2019. It’s the magic wand that will make all of Modi’s failures go away. That event and its political exploitation was an important reason why the BJP won a massive 303 seats by itself.

But there is one difference. The Balakot airstrikes took place about 3 months before the Lok Sabha elections. Today, nobody can say the NDA was going to lose Bihar assembly elections in November and the Ram Mandir will save them. The NDA wasn’t going to lose that election to begin with. The caste matrix and an inept opposition will ensure an NDA victory, even with an unpopular chief minister, Ram or no Ram. Yet, Lord Ram can’t solve one problem in Bihar — how to hold elections amid a pandemic. That seems to be an increasingly difficult thing to do.

Similarly, the BJP-led coalition is going to win Assam 2021 anyway, and the Mandir won’t bring it any more Hindutva-minded voters than it already has in West Bengal, or anywhere in India. What the Ram Mandir does is that it helps the BJP retain its Hindutva-minded voters. Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh, who may have been upset over the ‘encounter’ of a criminal who happened to belong to their caste, will be asked by the BJP to think of Lord Ram, and his new Hanuman — Narendra Modi.


Also read: Let Ayodhya Ram Mandir be a reminder: Indian ancestors died for it, up to us to rebuild


A rath yatra against unemployment?

Since there is no major election for another three months, not all is lost for the opposition. If the opposition tries hard and acts smart, it can defeat the BJP despite Ram Mandir and myriad other Hindutva political ploys. Just as UPA-1 returned to power in 2009 despite not going to war with Pakistan over 26/11, the opposition can defeat the BJP by taking up governance issues in a big way.

The more the BJP indulges in identity politics, the more its opposition should focus on governance-oriented politics. This will create some contrast that would be hard for voters to not notice, even with a co-opted media. But who in the opposition has the imagination to take out a rath yatra against unemployment? All that our opposition leaders can do is to tweet their support of the Mandir.

The author is contributing editor, ThePrint. Views are personal.

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18 Comments Share Your Views

18 COMMENTS

  1. Shivam vij again tried to use brahmins for his propaganda😂😂
    U know what I will ensure every member of my family votes for BJP

    He thinks we r upset bcoz of vikas dubeys encounter.We r upset over palghar sadhus n SSR which u r propaganda news media doesn’t cover.

  2. Shivaji Vij is a rare journalist with the courage to speak the truth: The emperor has no clothes.Hats off to you,sir..The public are still in thrall of the emperor and his show still,but it’s not long before the shit hits the fan.The old adage goes:You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time,but not all the people all the time..In India,it appears that the majority are happy to be fooled.Long live the emperor!

  3. This is not much of an article ,the BJP had always promised a temple and modi delivered , so trumpets are in full blast as expected.

  4. The comeuppance of anti Hindu, anti BJP and anti Modi fundamentalists, after having a free run for over 5 decades, as exemplified by this rant, is fun. Keep entertaining us Shri Vij.

  5. Mr. Editor ,, Please note Modi and BJP have knowhow and technique to set the agenda for future elections. . Congress or any other contesting party will have to respond to that agenda

    Due to prevailing pandemic all of the world s economies are in trouble. Had Indian Economy dependent on Exports , it would have collapsed by now. Indian economy mainly produces for home consumption , so chance of it bouncing back are better than other economies and Q3 and Q4 of Fiscal 2020-21 will bring necessary spurt in demand in Indian economy. This is understood even by the common folk , but not by contributing Editor of ThePrint Mr. Vij.

    As for as Chines threat is concerned , China can not over whelm India in 2020 as it has done in 1962, in spite of
    under the table support in distracting and demoralizing Indian ruling leadership, it is getting from ex-ruling dynasts and their pets. If a major conflict develops , India is most likely to get international moral , material, even military support from its friendly countries. Modi on international tours was not going to Thailand s Benkong or some unknown islands. Your patron party –Congress will face massive backlash for what super dynast s open support to China
    Some leftists are shedding tears on demise of secularism by Mr.Modi attending Bhoomi Pujan ceremony , Please note that Pseudo secularism as practised by ex-rulers has died. If Indira Priyadarshani can attend functions at Darul Islam Deoband , No protocol is broken by HIM on 05.08.2020 .. The Honourable President of India had attended the opening ceremony of reconstructed Somnaath Temple in fifties. . And Congress kept on proclaiming itself Secular .party. Then why shed crocodile tears today ?

  6. Every article from this foolish man confirms me one thing. Modi is doing all that is required to clean this country of a garbage called congress, Left and its well entrenched eco system. Here this man says the opposition should dwell on governance oriented politics. If he calls himself a journo he should know well that opposition had given up that pretence of governance long back. When ever a congress or SP or BSP or now even SS, Cong, NCP alliance in Maharashtra or the Left in Kerala….have just used the opportunity to loot the public. Dis nothing for the masses. Can congress wile out the taint of corruption just because its ecosystem in the media hides it and doesnt discuss it. NO. The people are too clever not to notice this and that is why today there is no credibility of these congress doormats in the eyes of general public and that is why people see a great hope in Modi. Modi has worked his way up in spite of these thuggish characters making hia life miserable at every step to the top. People know he is honest, hard working and he calls spade a spade unlike the Gandhis who wear janeu and visit temples on eve of elections only to repeat the process during next election. Shivam Vij should better concentrate on whatever crumbs are left of congress in some states. He should tell why the Maharashtra govt doesnt have the guts to hand over Sushant Rajput probe to CBI. What has the Maharashtra government to hide ? Why is congress supporting a staunch communal party like Sena ? Is this the secularism of Shivam Vij’s congress party ? One thing is certain, people like Vij, Shekhar Gupta are very frustrated lot. Their handlers in the congress are simply not match for the once pracharak PM who learnt jis politics the hard way.

    • Actually he thinks brahmins r upset because of vikas dubeys encounter.print n shivam vij should know u wil not find any brahmin protesting against the encounter.brahmins r upset because you use them for u r convenience mostly u abuse them but suddenly u have love for them .

      Moreover to clear u r misconception shivam vij brahmin is defined by his qualities not by birth u can read Vedas , Upanishads,mahabharat,etc.

      Have some guts to write about what’s happening in maharashtra print n shivam vij if u get some free time after u r propaganda.

      U don’t share news u create a propaganda.t hats why u remember vikas dubeys even today.please don’t target us in u r cheap propaganda shivam vij.we work for the country n our religion doesn’t teach us to kill

  7. Yes, the Bhoomipujan 2020 and Balakot 2019, washed the sins of the past 70 years and more and ensures they will never be repeated.

  8. Who are you Shivam Vij? to tell us what to do? Dividing hindus on caste and ruling them is halal. And uniting them on Lord Ram is haram ?

  9. But the thing to learn is that BJP is doing something ot the other to keep the public engaged. They always have couple of events or A / B plan in the pipeline. Great way to manage headlines and also keep the media engaged and happy.

  10. I would like to rebut three points the author has raised ,
    COVID AKA CHINA virus- the govt started lockdown when the number of cases reached 500much earlier than other countries and considering the 130billion population the per million case rate is very less ,India has handled China virus much better than many developed nations and recovery rate is among the highest in the world but author convinently ignores this,
    Economy & Unemployment- all over the world global economy has suffered drastically due to reduced consumption and demand and restrictions imposed to activities due to COVID so does he expect the govt to just give an Azaan and the economy will come running to do its bidding
    China – the Indian military has given a beffiting reply to the PLA and that fact is acknowledged even by PLA veterans hell they have even now refused to disclose their number of dead soldiers,and diplomatically India has succeded in engaging and encouraging the world in standing up against PRC but the author is ind to all these things as he has the blindfold of loyalty to a certain family ,So as his previous articles this is just another soggy piece of” Piddi ” column

  11. “Shoe I am “you STUPIDO . Confused. Why my babies are supporting temple. I agree it’s a setback to OUR CASTIEST RHETORIC . As the temple OPEN FOR ALL will show us as LIARS. Till such time we find a new set of lies to divide Hindus and rule INDIA. Eat pasta pizza. MAMMAMIA

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