Mandir casts Modi mantras away

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he demand for an early start to the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is gaining such momentum that it is sucking in all interested parties. The decision by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to defer hearing of the case involving the Ramjanmabhoomi title dispute to January has led to a storm, with RSS and other Hindutva outfits demanding an ordinance by the Modi government to facilitate immediate start of construction.

If such a course appeared to be a farfetched idea at one point of time, today it has been pushed to the centrestage of national debate. While the prospects of an ordinance move had raised apprehension among certain sections of likely affected parties, including Opposition Congress, a most unlikely person as Justice Chelameswar, the former Supreme Court judge of the presser fame, has gone on record that the pending court case was no deterrent to the issuance of such an ordinance.

Meanwhile, an announcement by Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas chief Ram Vilas Vedanti that the temple construction would start in December itself as part of a negotiated settlement, along with the construction of a new mosque in Lucknow, has introduced a new twist. Fearing that such an out-of-court deal could rob BJP a much-needed opportunity to play the Mandir card to consolidate Hindu votes for Modi’s 2019 bid, functionaries of the ruling alliance and the government have jumped on to the bandwagon, demanding immediate start of construction. RSS has even called for a 1992-type agitation as it feels Hindus are wearing thin on their patience.

Union ministers Uma Bharati and PP Chaudhary have joined the action demanding redressal through the legislative route to avoid any further judicial delay. Haryana minister Anil Vij even took a dig at the Supreme Court saying it was turning down demands for an early decision on the dispute while ‘it could hear a late-night plea’ to delay the hanging of Mumbai terror attack convict Yakub Memon. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, whose request for an early resumption of hearing in the case was turned down by the Supreme Court, has something up his sleeves, says state BJP chief MN Pandey, who interprets the Supreme Court response as an ‘insult to Hindus’. He is advising people to wait until Diwali for ‘some good news’.

Yogi is set to revisit Ayodhya for the festival of lights and there is speculation that the keenly-awaited announcement could be about a huge statue of Lord Ram to come up on the banks of the Sarayu river as a precursor to temple construction.

Irrespective of what happens in the next couple of months, one thing is certain. Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is going to dominate the 2019 narrative for BJP, replacing Modi’s development rhetoric of 2014, which has already proved to be hollow.