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‘Symbol of universal brotherhood’, Ram Mandir rules prime time but politics never far behind

A quick take on what prime time TV news talked about.

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New Delhi: The Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan in Ayodhya dominated prime time debates Wednesday. Well, except on NewsX, which didn’t really hold a debate, but a discussion with panelists from across the world who all happened to be heads or a part of temple associations. Go figure.

On Times Now, Rahul Shivshankar called the elaborate groundbreaking ceremony “a symbol of universal brotherhood”.

Brotherhood maybe but not in politics it seems: Referring to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s comments against the ceremony, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said, “It is unfortunate that some elements are trying to spoil the celebrations happening all across the country for Ram Mandir.”

Debating the AIMPLB’s comparisons between the temple and Turkey’s Hagia Sofia, which was recently converted into a mosque, author Anand Ranganathan called the organisation “bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, supremacist”. “They don’t believe in man-made laws… They are out to prove Dr Ambedkar’s words correct and I quote him — ‘Islam can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland and regard a Hindu as his kith and kin’.

India Today‘s Rajdeep Sardesai went into the politics of the bhoomi pujan and asked if it was a “sarkari” event with all the focus on one man — Narendra Modi.

Former Rajya Sabha MP Pavan Varma defended the Modi government saying, “The Prime Minister in his speech looked upon Shri Ram as a symbol of unity in the country”. But he added a caveat: “If certain sections [of citizens] weaponise Ram and use him for irrational anger, unwarranted vengeance or unnecessary violence, it must be condemned.”

Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav disagreed: “I’m very surprised Pavan Varma believes that what was celebrated and ritualised today were those virtues [of Ram]… What happened today was a ritual of conquest.”

NewsX‘s Rishabh Gulati hosted panelists from Italy, UK, US, Germany and more, who belonged to temple associations. On Ram Rajya as a form of governance, Suresh Joshi, director general of the Guild of British Indians offered vague pearls of wisdom. “Ram is an icon…that is an example to us. You can call it Ram Rajya, democracy, New India, Modism — that is a matter of choice,” he said. Huh?

News Nation‘s Deepak Chaurasia welcomed everybody to the ‘special Ayodhya edition’ of his news debate, which he conducted from the banks of the Saryu river in the UP town.

Panning the camera across the river bank, which was crowded with people (it’s as if everyone has forgotten there is a pandemic), Chaurasia proclaimed, “Today the Saryu river and Ayodhya have lit up the way it did when Lord Ram came back from banwas. Tomorrow will be a new dawn for Ayodhya.”

Chaurasia then asked “Why did people raise questions about the Ayodhya bhoomi pujan? He questioned Yasmin Farooqui, AIMPLB, on why they weren’t accepting the Supreme Court’s decision and saying that Babri was and always shall remain a mosque. “Why are you playing the victim card?”

She responded, “We believe there is a mosque there and will always be one.” She asked whether there was even a single skirmish or act of violence. “We protested in peace and remained silent.” To which Chaurasia replied, bewilderingly, “Everyone knows what Babur did.”

On NDTV India, Ravish Kumar took a more historical and philosophical tone, referring to the many different versions of Ram: Tulsi and Kabir’s Ram, Kunwar Narayan’s Ram and Kaifi Azmi’s Ram.

At ground zero, Kumar said that images of RSS ideologues KG Hegdewar and MS Golwalkar were there, along with those of Modi and VHP leader Ashok Singhal. He then recalled that people used to put up images of Gandhi, Patel and Bose.

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