Having read Rana Ayyub’s tweet which said “Not the India I know”, I retired to cogitate about how I, a person who ticks 2 out of the 3 boxes in the making of a privileged Hindu Upper-Caste male, felt about the Bhoomi Pujan which saw our Prime Minister use a 40-kg silver brick to lay the foundation stone of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir.
My earliest recollection of the case takes me back to when I was a mere 11-year-old. Having lost the coveted (at least to me ) trophy of the inter-house GK quiz due to a question which had to do with the Ayodhya dispute, for me Babri Masjid was nothing more than a place because of which I had to see my arch-nemesis win.
Cut to college second year, our Psychology professor told us to write a research paper on the case which had again started building up. Mark Tully’s first-hand account of what happened got me acquainted with how on the 6th of December 1992, the VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP along with 1,50,000 kar sevaks, tore down the Babri Masjid in an open display of Islamophobia and how nothing concrete was done against those responsible for this Hindutva assault.
I waded through a pile of readings, even when my mind, residing safely inside the bubble of secularism, refused to believe half of them and what they told me about my India. This wasn’t the India I knew. The India I knew had Motibar Rahman taking care of a 500 years old Hindu temple in Assam. The India I knew had Ramleela and Namaz happening side by side in Lat Bhairav Mandir and Lat Masjid in the holy city of Benaras. Yes, This wasn’t the India I knew.
Even today, RSS celebrates the black day as Shaurya Diwas and has no qualms about expressing its views in front of everyone. It is because of the shield provided by BJP that RSS has the audacity to propagate majoritarian views, leave alone having them. Where on one hand, the right-wing nationalist parties are rightly blamed for their cancerous approach to breaching the secular fabric of the country, I believe P.V. Narasimha Rao to be equally culpable of the crime. Vinay Sitapati, the author of Half Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India in an interview clearly stated how Rao put political gains over his responsibility towards the Muslims in one of the darkest moments of the country, by trying to negotiate with the right, instead of taking grave action against them.
On 5th August 2020, as Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the temple, I could hear firecrackers going off from every direction in my hometown and see people’s houses decorated with diyas to mark the ‘auspicious’ day. I was startled to see some of my friends do the same.
At this point in time, it isn’t about being a good or bad Hindu anymore, it’s about people failing to recognise the fundamental problem with celebrating the day of constructing a place of worship on top of the land where stood another, demolished by the same people.
It is not about whether you support the BJP or the Congress anymore, it’s about differentiating between what is right and what is wrong. You can’t oppose appeasement of one community in the past by appeasing another in the present.
The problem lies with the state of the opposition in our country. Congress, which has a record of jumping on the bandwagon of anything that might fetch them votes, has welcomed the move, thinking it will appease the Hindus of India. And therein, lies its biggest fault. Congress is the primary example of how things can go wrong if you do not learn from your past.
Rajiv Gandhi failed terribly when he tried to balance the votes after reversing Supreme Court’s judgement on the ‘Shah Bano’ case by opening the locks of Babri Masjid in 1985. He lost both, the Hindu and the Muslim votes. The problem, however, did not start with him. It is widely believed that the then CM of Uttar Pradesh, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was instrumental in ‘Ram Lala’ idols inside the masjid in 1949.
By trying to appease both communities, it caused even bigger damage. What the Congress isn’t realising is the fact that taking a neutral ground on issues such as this, would do it more harm than good since those with majoritarian views already have one party to support, they do not need another.
Let us not do injustice to our Muslim brothers who chose us when push came to shove in 1947 and reinstill their belief in the profane fabric of our motherland. Even as the world, with Times Square celebrating the ‘grand’ event, acts as an onlooker, let us not be mere spectators in this unabashed display of majoritarian regime by a power-hungry clique.