Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP National President Amit Shah in Tripura | PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP National President Amit Shah | PTI
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After the not-so-gleeful results of the Haryana and Maharashtra assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is keeping a hawk-eyed watch on the big Ayodhya verdict expected before 17 November. But it is unlikely that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah are losing much sleep over the long-awaited ruling. The politics of it will go their way regardless.

Whatever be the judgment, the fallout is likely to help the BJP – a party which, under its current leadership, is Machiavellian enough to turn any situation in its favour and manipulate issues to its full advantage. Amit Shah is organised enough to have strategised for either outcome.

It is the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that provided the platform for the BJP’s rise in the early 1990s under L.K. Advani, firmly establishing the party in India’s national politics.

Now, the verdict by the five-judge Supreme Court can give Modi’s BJP just the right amount of Hindutva spring that it needs amid a struggling economy, rampant joblessness and simmering rural discomfort. A favourable ruling would mean taking credit and sounding the victory bugle; a not-so-favourable one would mean a plum chance to whip up communal sentiments all over again – something the BJP anyway excels at. Either way, politics is the winner.

To make it even better for the ruling party, Ayodhya and Ram Mandir are issues that can very easily box the opposition into a corner, numbing it into silence.


Also read: The tale of two Ayodhya archaeologists who changed the way we dig up India’s Hindu history


A favourable verdict

A ruling in favour of the Hindu side will be just what the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP and the entire Hindutva ecosystem will tom-tom as an unprecedented victory, hoping the wave generated from it would see the BJP through in the next few elections.

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The BJP speaks directly to its core constituency using Hindutva and a majoritarian brand of politics expanding its electoral base. Everything else – nationalism, India-Pakistan border, NRC, Citizenship Amendment Bill, Article 370, welfare schemes – merely build on that rock-solid base.

Just look at what the past few months since the BJP came back to power on 23 May have been like. The final outcome of the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam may not have been what it hoped for, but that has hardly stopped the BJP from upping the ante on the issue, threatening to implement it in other parts of India and unapologetically drawing the distinction between Hindu refugees who deserve respect and the Muslim refugees who are ‘infiltrators/termites’ and should be ‘thrown out’. For Hindus, of course, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is the ever-available tool.

Modi’s government pushed the Triple Talaq Bill through in Parliament, becoming the ‘good’ Hindus who eradicate the ‘evil’ in the Muslim community. Scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status through Article 370 and attempting to herald a new political era in the former state by relegating the Abdullahs and the Muftis to the periphery played right into the narrative of its akhand (undivided) Bharat, majority-driven ideology.

Given how the hearings in the Supreme Court went, legal experts are of the view that the verdict, in all likelihood, will be in the favour of Ram Lalla Virajman, one of the three parties in the case. If that happens, PM Modi, Amit Shah and the BJP company will go to town taking credit for delivering on a long-held promise, making sure it is repeated ad nauseam and drilled into the minds of the party’s target voters. And the fact that with a full majority, the Modi government chose to wait patiently for the verdict also shores up the PM’s image as a leader who plays by the rules. After all, leaders like Subramanian Swamy have been asking the government to acquire the disputed land and start the construction anyway.


Also read: Priyanka’s new UP team wants clear Congress stand on Ram temple, cows & kanwariyas


The other possibility

Any other decision that doesn’t involve dedicating the entire disputed site at Ayodhya to Ram would be seen as undesirable by the Hindu side. One might assume this would put the BJP on the backfoot. But even a not-so-pleasing verdict gives Modi-Shah the chance to go shrill on the Hindutva front, generate communal frenzy, appeal to the majoritarian sentiment and divert attention from all other issues. This gives the BJP a chance to keep the Ayodhya issue alive and burning, just like it did with the NRC issue.

The BJP has become shriller on the NRC after the Assam list didn’t turn out as per its expectations. The BJP is intrinsically a communal force, and all its top leaders – Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the incendiary Nellie speech, L.K. Advani with the entire Ram Janmabhoomi movement, Modi with the 2002 Gujarat riots, and Shah with his constant communal rhetoric – have carried that legacy forward.

Any ruling, one even slightly falling short of Hindu litigants’ expectations, would mean an unabashed, dangerous high pitch by the BJP and its ecosystem, at work 24X7, to widen an already prominent wedge between the majority and minority communities and sway voters.

This case also has the potential to open the flood gates of litigation by Hindu parties against Muslim structures near Kashi Vishwanath and more – another factor that can be enabling for Modi-Shah’s politics.

The opposition, meanwhile, can do precious little. Given the Congress’ recent history of flirting with ‘soft Hindutva’ and parading its janeudhaari (one who wears the sacred thread) leader, it is going to do a tightrope walk, irrespective of how the BJP plays it.

The Ayodhya verdict, whichever way it goes, can potentially be a win-win for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and a severe test for the opposition.

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17 Comments Share Your Views

17 COMMENTS

  1. If the democracy is all about for the people,of the people and by the people it will to function successfully only if there is a majority. For that to happen the minority has to accept the rule of majority in a graceful manner instead of moaning about a majoritarian brand of politics. When the congress rules for over 50 years with a popular mandate was it it not majoritarian brand of politics? Right or wrong but BJP managed to get that kind of mandate twice and it took them 50 odd years. Just because one does not like it, is it fair to call it majoritarian brand of politics ? Without MAJORITY there can be no democracy.

  2. This religious frenzy despite the doom in the economic sector will definitely spoil the country in the long run. The communal tensions, as gauged from the present situation, will frighten away the overseas investors. China will benefit by invading Indian markets with its products. Indian manufacturers will suffer and the growth of Indian economy will be in question. God save this country !!!

  3. HOW COME MANY SECTIONS OF MEDIA SEEM TO BE AWARE OF THE LIKELY VERDICT ON AYODHYA ! ARE THERE MOLES OF THE RULING PARTY IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM OR HAVE SUCH MOLES BEEN PLANTED ? ONE HOPES THE JUDICIARY WILL TAKE A BALANCED DECISION BY NOT SWAYING TOWARDS EITHER EMOTIONS OR FAITHS OR BELIEFS AND TAKES A DECISION KEEPING IN VIEW SYNCRETIC TRADITIONS OF INDIA AND THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS , WHO DID NOT WANT THE SOCIAL CLEAVAGE AND POLARIZATION OF THE KIND CREATED BY THE RSS/BJP/VHP .

  4. Why are the journalists in The Print incapable of writing from an unbiased and non judgmental point of view? Does almost every article has to be a shrill opinion piece?

  5. My heart aches for this country as the personality of the man at the helm of affairs has the profile of the Dark Triad- narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. These traits are toxic and damaging and the core aspects of all three dark triad personalities – their selfishness and manipulative character – will probably lead to detrimental effects in the long term.

    I hope I am wrong.

  6. Dude judgements going to come out…sure it’s going to be fair as well…u stop getting bothered about Modi or Shah as u know very well they’ll do pretty well…

  7. Ram Madir issue has now reached a final stage. If Sc verdict goes in favor of Mandir, then rest is routine. If it goes against the Mandir, then BJP with its majority and support in both Houses, will pass bill for the temple construction at that site and a grand mosque elsewhere. If SC upholds Allahabad verdict or some variation of that, then the Muslims will be persuaded to give up the area allotted to them in exchange for a bigger area for mosque elsewhere. No major opposition can dare to oppose such a bill. Whichever way it goes, Modi will handle it maturely and then move on to the next item on the list – UCC. Left wingers and pseudo-secularists should now really worry how to stop it.

  8. One would not speculate on what the final verdict will be, although it will rest on legally admissible evidence rather than issues of faith and sentiment alone. So if it does not hand over the entire site for construction of a Temple, a responsible national government could not be seen to be faulting an SC decision, mobilising popular sentiment against it. 2. How much electoral juice there is left in this issue is difficult to judge. Abrogation of Article 370 has not proved to be a magic wand in Haryana and Maharashtra. A certain fatigue is bound to set in over emotive issues at a time of widespread economic distress. One hopes good sense and statesmanship will prevail.

  9. I had cultivated some respect for The Print, especially after Shekar Gupta toned down his pro-congress stance post May 2019. I have to reconsider my views. Can’t you people write dispassionately. Why drag economy in a feature written about Ram Temple? What is the relevance? What do words like “tom tom” do in a feature about a sensitive. Your opinion under “The other possibility” says everything you wanted to say.

  10. After NRC what the Muslims who are excluded from Citizenship will live without voting rights or will they be sent to Bangladesh and Pakistan. Or is the exercise to attract Hindu votes and appease Hindus. What will become of the Muslims. Amit Shah and Modi should spell out their displacement clearly just as they took credit for abrogation of Article 370 at Election Rallies. Will they do it.

  11. What happens after the Mandir is built? BJP and allies will not have any Hindutva plank to fight with. Will they now identify more Masjids saying they were built over Mandirs? Finally I will be happy if building a Mandir satisfies and fills the hunger for food clothing and roof over head of Millions!!!!!!!

  12. Why is opposition always caught off guard in such situations? Why is it so difficult for opposition to put up coherent and brave front to ruling party designs?
    My suggestion to opposition is put up a credible leader at helm and work hard. If you just want to come to power piggybacking on BJP’s mistakes, believe me it will be long before you come anywhere near to power

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