Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's words, "In politics, there are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen," find a stark resonance in India's political landscape on December 6, 1992, and January 22, 2024. The demolition of the Babri mosque and the upcoming inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya mark tectonic shifts in India's politics over the last three decades.
In 1992, the Sangh Parivar took a significant risk, committing a criminal act by demolishing the mosque, an event widely condemned. The BJP, its political arm, faced severe consequences, losing elections and facing political ostracization. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's moderate approach helped form a government, but the 2004 and 2009 defeats reflected the BJP's political crisis.
Contrastingly, today's BJP, under Narendra Modi's leadership, enjoys unprecedented success, securing back-to-back majorities in 2014 and 2019. Modi's Hindu-centric politics and strategic achievements of Hindutva goals distinguish the current BJP from the 1992 scenario.
The inauguration of the Ram temple is a pinnacle event in this trajectory, portraying the BJP's ideological journey from a struggling Opposition party to a dominant political force.
"The Ram temple was the proverbial life-saving steroid for the BJP," explains the party's growth. It acted as a catalyst, uniting Hindus and propelling the BJP from a mere two seats in 1984 to 89 seats after embracing the Ayodhya issue.
The Opposition's response to the Ayodhya movement fueled the BJP's polarization strategy, depicting Muslims as villains. Eminent commentator A G Noorani criticized the opposition's approach, emphasizing the failure to counter communal frenzy while grappling with political naivety.
The Congress and secular parties' complicity with shrill minority communalism and reliance on left-liberal historians proved politically counterproductive. The lack of a sincere effort to intervene morally and politically against communal violence allowed the BJP to capitalize on the Ayodhya narrative. As the Ram temple's inauguration approaches, criticism mainly centers on the criminality of the demolition in 1992, highlighting a failure to address the ideological core of Hindutva.
The tragic repetition of history – the Congress government's failure to protect the mosque in 1992 and the Congress leadership's current silence on the demolition while discussing the temple – underscores the challenges facing India's secularism. Defending secularism demands ideological clarity, sincerity, perseverance, and courage to acknowledge past mistakes – qualities conspicuously absent in the current opposition.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University