The media and political build-up was cut short abruptly. Almost laconically, CJI Ranjan Gogoi read out the order. The matter will be listed in January to decide which court and when this matter will be heard. It can be heard in January or February or May whatever.
Which means, what? It means a decision on Ram Mandir will overshoot 2019 general elections by when the next government will be in place, maybe led by Modi, maybe not! The Congress especially Congressman Kapil Sibal who had sought exactly such a directive must be loving it, but the BJP was promptly and urgently disappointed, under tremendous pressure.
BJP MP Subramanian spoke for the party: “I want an ordinance ASAP.” VHP working president Alok Kumar said the VHP will intensify its agitation and ask the Modi government to bring an ordinance “in this winter session itself, we’ll meet MPs of all parties and impress upon them that the Ram Temple cannot wait eternally.” The RSS also sought an ordinance. But CJI Ranjan Gogoi can wait, if not eternally, at least up to 2019. Wait a few months more, he seemed to be telling the nation, the people the BJP and RSS say they represent.
Among the people, the “sages” are mad at the Supreme Court and hopping mad at the Modi government for “squandering four and a half years.” Monday, they were railing at the top court for postponing the hearings. “Yeh galat kaam pura court kar raha hai,” a spokes-sage of the Nirmohi Akhara told media. “Ab toh court ka intezaar karna padega.” Ram Vilas Vedanti of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas went all out against the apex court, courting contempt in the process by alleging that “Gogoi Sonia Gandhi ke saath aur Congress ke saath hai, Kapil Sibal ke saath mil kar Hinduon ko dhoka dia hai,” the ex-BJP MP said. “The aspirations of Hindus have been pushed “ahead by lakhs of years.”
What he did not say was that BJP president Amit Shah is reaping the whirlwind for the wind. The other day in Kannur in Kerala, Vivekananda’s “lunatic asylum”, Shah held forth rather loudly that the Supreme Court should “take only such decisions that are acceptable to people.” Said in the Sabarimala context, it was more a reminder to the apex court in the larger ambit of the Ram Mandir issue.
Amit Shah’s “warning” must have been taken note of by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and his bench. Courts don’t take warnings and ultimatums seriously, and definitely not kindly. The bench included Justice KM Joseph who had a time getting appointed. And CJI Gogoi was one among the “four senior justices” who held the presser in February this year to warn the nation of “democracy under threat.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, touring Japan for his annual summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, must be wondering where all the samurais have gone? Now, it’s up to a kamikaze strike. Earlier, Monday morning, hours before the case came up in the Supreme Court, Giriraj Kishore in Shah-like tone and tenor said that “Hindu patience was running out.” Post-SC’s Monday directive that the case has been postponed to January 2019, the “big fight” had already erupted.
Amit Shah was pulling above his weight in Kannur. And he got pilloried for it by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who, in a snide swipe at Shah’s heavyweight appearance, fat-shamed him, saying that “fat alone” will not help the BJP government at the Centre to “overthrow” his government, that Shah should limit himself to Gujarat. Of course, Shah was not referring to the Modi government when serving the ultimatum. What Amit Shah said in Hindi was lost in Malayalam translation!
Amit Shah in Kerala was not on a spiritual search like Vivekananda 125 years ago. The Sangh Parivaar’s Hindutva makes no pretensions to spirituality. Like any Abrahamic monotheistic religion, politics is at its core, with Guru Golwalkar and not Swami Vivekananda the ideal. Now, it all boils down to testicular fortitude! Who has the guts?
That said Hindustan is full of brainy cavemen! Ready to pick up cudgels on behalf of gods and deities, ready to go to jail and getting slipped discs in the process. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not a caveman, he is a ‘person of the globe’. But the Modi government while upholding the law of the land believes Ram Mandir is an “emotional issue” that needs solution. CJI Ranjan Gogoi says the court has other issues to hear.
The question before the apex court is who really owns the land where Babri Masjid stood and it is telling that media and people, in general, refer to the imbroglio as the ‘Ram Mandir’ issue. Very few call it ‘Babri Masjid’ anymore. In popular lexicon ‘Ram Mandir’ has taken hold and it will take more than constitutional morality to erase that popular mood.
(The author is a political commentator)