HOW AYODHYA HAS IMPACTED SOCIAL AND POLITICAL DISCOURSE: TURNING POINTS (POST BABRI DEMOLITION)

AS WE SAW IN PREVIOUS PART, IMMENSE PRESSURE ON RAJIV GANDHI PUSHED HIM TO MISHANDLE THINGS. HE TRIED HIS HANDS WITH MAJORITY MAJORITY BUT THE ULTIMATE BENEFICIARY WAS THE BJP THAT, FROM TWO SEATS IN 1984 LOK SABHA POLLS, WENT ON TO WIN 85 SEATS IN 1989 AND 119 SEATS IN 1991.

FOR REASONS THAT LIE IN INDIA’S PLURALITY AND THUS IN SENSITIVITIES OF THE MAJORITY AS WELL AS THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES, THE APEX COURT DIDN’T TAKE NOTICE OF THE CONTEMPT PETITIONS FILED AFTER THE BABRI DEMOLITION EVEN IF THE THEN CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA, JUSTICE M N VENKATACHALIAH, HAD SAID THAT THE DEMOLITION WAS THE MOST BLATANT CONTEMPT EVER COMMITTED. KALYAN SINGH AND VIJAYARAJE SCINDIA HAD GIVEN WRITTEN UNDERTAKING IN THE SUPREME COURT THAT KAR SEVAKS WOULD NOT TOUCH THE BABRI MASJID.

LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE IS TECHNICAL AS WELL AS INTERPRETATIONAL. THAT’S WHY WE HEAR THE PHRASE, ‘ON YOUR FINE SENSE OF JUDGMENT’ BY THE LAWYERS WHEN THEY SUM THEIR ARGUMENT IN ANY CASE. THE INTERPRETATIONAL NATURE OF OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM DOES GIVE THE JUDGES THE DISCRETION TO INTERPRET LAWS WITHIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL NORMS. AND THEY HAVE DONE WELL. THE COURT’S HESITATION IN AYODHYA CASE CAN BE GAUGED FROM THE FACT IT IS PART OF THE LEGAL JURISPRUDENCE TO SEE WHAT EFFECT A PARTICULAR JUDGMENT CAN HAVE ON THE SOCIETY AS A WHOLE AND THEY TRY TO KEEP AS MUCH RESTRAINT AS POSSIBLE.

TO CONTINUE..

©SantoshChaubey

HOW AYODHYA HAS IMPACTED SOCIAL AND POLITICAL DISCOURSE: TURNING POINTS (PRE BABRI DEMOLITION)

Ayodhya has changed the political discourse of the country with events unfolding since 1949, after India started its journey as an independent sovereign nation on August 15, 1947. India began as a democratic country with socialist ethos at its core and the word ‘secular’ was rightly added to further the spirit.

But our lawmakers have failed us, right from 1947. Socialist and secular are all encompassing words that signify and qualify every other word that has become essential to our political discourse today, i.e., nationalism and even Hindutva. Nationalism had to be an extension of our socialist and secular ethos. Hindutva had to be nothing more than a way of life practiced by the majority in the country which gave equal respect to all other ‘ways of life’.

But we have messed it all up and as a results, the words that should define the spirit of our diverse society, have become mere tools to maintain political goalposts. Socialism, secularism, nationalism, Hindutva, all have come to define different goalposts in a society that is still trying to make sense that where it intended to go when it began its journey 70 years ago.

And Ayodhya has played a central role in this narrative. And the events that shaped this narrative are:

DECEMBER 22, 1949 – RAMLALLA IDOL PLACED: Ending over 400 years of status-quo. The history says, though then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was furious at placing of the idol in the disputed structure, he was never alert enough to visit Ayodhya even once.

19 FEBRUARY 1981, MEENAKSHIPURAM CONVERSIONS: A Tamil Nadu village, Meenakshipuram, saw a mass conversion, and was renamed as Rahmat Nagar. It was the beginning of the ascendance of majority appeasement politics in the country as opposed to minority appeasement that dominated the politics of the country till then. Talks of Ayodhya and Ram Janmabhoomi to be taken in a mission mode began here.

1984 – THE SHAH BANO CASE: The way Rajiv Gandhi surrendered before the compulsions of minority appeasement and overturned a Supreme Court ruling on a social malaise that was affecting millions of Muslim women, it further sent out a message that government was ready to go to any extent to save its votebanks. It also sent a powerful message that the government that was so appeasement centric that it could overturn a historic decision of the top court of the land, could never be friendly to the interests of the majority. And there were many takers of it.

FEBRUARY 1, 1986, ORDER TO UNLOCK THE GATES: Though a local court ordered it, the governments, at centre and in Uttar Pradesh, were so complicit that they never thought to challenge it in a higher court. Instead, the padlock was immediately opened after the judge’s order who quoted his religious experiences while delivering the judgement. It was in stark comparison to Rajiv Gandhi’s stand on the Shah Bano case. That was pure minority appeasement. But the stand taken here tells us that Rajiv had started feeling the pressure of a parallel political movement taking shape that was adopting majority appeasement and had chosen the most direct tool to reach out to the masses – religion. Rajiv’s stand also tells us he might have seen that it was going to be the future’s political currency and therefore, let’s try hands there.

1989 – UNRAVELLING OF THE BOFORS SCAM: A pure political development that added to various sorts of pressures increasing day by day on Rajiv Gandhi and his government.

1989 ELECTIONS – PRESSURE OF MISHANDLING SRILANKA: A foreign policy fiasco that further dented the credibility of Rajiv Gandhi.

1989 SHILANYAS OF TEMPLE BY VHP: It is said that, both the Congress government in Uttar Pradesh and at centre, could have stopped it. But when see that Rajiv Gandhi began his poll campaign for the 1989 Lok Sabha polls from Faizabad, we can easily find why they didn’t take proper legal interest to stall the VHP’s plans.

1989-91 – VP SINGH’S JAN MORCHA AND MANDAL POLITICS: VP Singh had left Congress on the issue of the Bofors scam but the pressure on him to save his coalition government pushed him to latch on to something that would again derail the Indian ship. He chose to branch out his majority appeasement politics by trying to divide the majority society into different higher and lower castes, through the Mandal proposals, that we now know as India’s caste based reservation system. Though VP Singh could not reap its benefits, we, as a society, are still cursed to weather its bad effects when we find that caste-equations and not development define the core agenda of the parties.

ANTI-MANDAL VIOLENCE AND PRESSURE ON VP SINGH: Implementation of the Mandal proposals led to widespread demonstrations and violence. It increased pressure on the VP Singh government to the extent that he had to go soft on Ayodhya, another important element of the majority appeasement politics.

SEPTEMBER 25, 1990: ADVANI KICKS OFF HIS RATHYATRA – THE MANDAL SPIN: The BJP cleverly used the deepening Ayodhya sentiments and the anti-Mandal protests to its advantage. It could make voters believe that it was their right representative in these circumstances. The electoral gains made by the BJP supported it. The party that could win just two seats in the previous Lok Sabha polls in 1984, won 85 seats in 1989.

OCTOBER 30, 1990: Police firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya led to five deaths. Mulayam Singh Yadav was Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. Another 15 kar sevaks were killed in police firing on November 2. Mulayam’s acts sent out a message that he was all about minority appeasement or as his political opponents could make people believe, at least those who did not vote for Mulayam and the 2017 UP assembly polls tell us that the sentiment has got stronger.

1991: The BJP’s first big political foray in the mainstream. It came to power in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It was the beginning of the emergence of a political alternative in India that would make Congress like a regional party in 25 years, as the Congress’ situation is now. And this emergence was built on majority politics, opposed to Congress’ minority politics.

DEC 6, 1992: Babri demolition and the aftermath – the riots of December 1992 that engulfed the country. The Bombay riots of December 1992 and January 1993 and subsequent serial blasts in India’s financial capital that killed scores. The majority Vs minority started becoming central to the political discourse in the country.

©SantoshChaubey

FIVE POINTS THAT INDICATE CONGRESS IS ACTUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR BABRI-RAMJANMABHOOMI MESS

1. JAWAHAR LAL NEHRU: RAM LALLA IDOL WAS PLACE INSIDE BABRI MASJID ON THE INTERVENING NIGHT OF DEC 22-23, 1949. HE IS PRIMARILY BLAMED FOR NOT REALIZING THE POTENTIAL THREAT THAT THE ISSUE WOULD BECOME, THUS ADOPTING A SOFT APPROACH. IT IS SAID THAT NEHRU COULD NEVER FIND TIME TO VISIT AYODHYA FOR THE ISSUE THAT SHOWS HE COULD NEVER FIND IT POTENT ENOUGH TO MAKE A PRIORITY.

2. INDIRA GANDHI: IT IS SAID THAT SHE TOOK THE DECISION TO OPEN THE BABRI MASJID LOCKS. MANY INCLUDE AG NOORANI SAY THAT. THE ANALYSTS OPINE THAT IT WAS A CONSIOUS STRATEGY OF HER HINDU CARD POLITICS. PV NARASIMHA RAO, IN HIS BOOK ‘AYODHYA: 6 DEC 1992’ WRITES THAT ‘INDIRA GANDHI HAD ASKED TO PREPARE VARIOUS PLANS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AYODHYA’. ALSO IT IS DURING INDIRA GANDHI’S TENURE THAT THE BABRI-RAM JAMNABHOOMI ISSUE TOOK POLITICAL CONTOURS FROM BEING A LARGELY RELIGIOUS ISSUE.

3. RAJIV GANDHI: OPENED THE LOCKS ON FEB 1, 1986. POLITICAL COMPULSIONS FORCED HIM TO PLAY THE HINDU CARD. HE OPENED THE PADLOCK AMID THE GLEAMING CAMERA LENSES TO SEND OUT THE MESSAGE. THOUGH HE WAS ARMED WITH A DISTRICT MEGISTRATE ORDER, HIS GOVERNMENT NEVER THOUGHT TO APPEAL AGAINST IT.

4. RAJIV GANDHI: ALLOWED THE RAM TEMPLE SHILANYAS BY THE VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD TO HAPPEN ON NOV 9, 1989, AGAIN A CONSCIOUS PLOY OF HINDU CARD POLITICS. HE WAS PRIME MINISTER TILL DECEMBER 2 BUT COULDN’T FIND LEGAL WAYS TO DERAIL OR STOP THE LIKES OF THE VHP.

5. PV NARASIMHA RAO: HE IS BLAMED FOR FAILING TO PREVENT BABRI DEMOLITION ON DEC 6, 1992. RAO IS BLAMED FOR CONSCIOUSLY IGNORING THE SIGNALS THAT A DEMOLITION WAS CERTAIN. HE DECIDED TO GO BY THE WORDS OF KALYAN SINGH WHO HAD TAKEN A VOW TO THE BUILD THE RAM TEMPLE IN AYODHYA THAN PEOPLE LIKE JYOTI BASU, ARJUN SINGH AND HIS OWN UNION HOME SECRETARY. FORMER PM VP SINGH BLAMED HIM FOR CRIMINAL NEGLIGENE. ANOTHER FORMER PM CHANDRA SHEKHAR BLAMED HIM FOR ‘DELIBERATE DERELICTION OF DUTY’.

DETAILED RESEARCH BASED ARTICLE TO FOLLOW.

©SantoshChaubey

RIOTERS: WE EVEN PLANNED TO PUNISH THEM

We were just too young to think the good or bad of that. Yes, we naturally felt elated when, after spending an hour or two in school, we would get the opportunity to head back home, day after day, for many days, that year.

Some of the super-seniors in the school, whom everyone saw as bad characters and so needed to maintain a distance from, would come directly in the class, would throw some religious slogans, would ask the teacher to leave the class and would ask us to go home.

Though, we were aware that all this was happening to build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in place of the Babri Mosque, the only point that concerned us then was the fact that we were getting an early leave from the school, an added bonus.

Initially, for some days, it all looked so pleasing to us. We had plenty of time to hang-around, to play, to read comic strips, the in-thing those days. As classes were not running, there was no pressure of home work. Cricket, candies and comic strips – the 3Cs – they flowed so smoothly.

But it didn’t last long.

One day, we were told by the parents that schools had been closed till the next information as tension was growing with increasing rallies and protests of temple-supporters. Soon after this, we were informed that curfew was clamped not just in Varanasi but in many other cities as riots had broken out.

We are aware of words ‘curfew’ and ‘riots’, but not what they meant in real terms. These were just newspapers words newly added to our vocabulary after the family elders told us about. Elders told us they meant bad, ominous developments. But for us, it was more about its dictionary meaning. Rather, for us, it was an opening into the period of more relaxed days with more time at our disposal.

But, soon, the feeling of joy was replaced by a lingering innuendo of boredom. Though our house was in a sub-lane, away from the main road where regular police patrolling was being done, we were not allowed to venture out of the house. TV had no satellite channels then. The only mode of communication was the landline phone of BSNL that we children were not allowed to use on our own.

So even if some of us were so not into the games of daily routine, like going out, playing cricket, table-tennis or hide and seek in that part of the year because winter was approaching and early arrival of darkness would give us a chance to play the game within the time set by the parents to reach back the house, we started feeling yearning for outings.

With no outdoor games, controlled TV timings, no communication with friends, of school or neighbourhood, and no school classes (yes school and daily trip to it were looking better options now), we soon started feeling isolated, as if we were incarcerated on an island and there was no set timeline for our freedom.

But there was more to come. The menu of meals at home was getting increasingly same, day after day, and so tasteless. No milk was non-issue but tea or coffee, that was first on a reduced availability, and soon became sporadically available, and that too, if anyone could go out during the relaxed curfew hours and if was lucky enough to get some milk.

Also, as parents and elders, too, were restricted to the house, it resulted in the development we needed the least, in fact we detested. Since they, too, did not have much to do, their attention was drawn directly to our free time, that how much of time we were wasting, that we could utilize the time to cover the syllabus to get ahead of others. And soon, we had more than willing teachers monitoring us all the time.

24/7 teachers, a dull menu day after day, no outdoor games, no talking to friends, no enjoying the daily trip to the school and back home, no new comic strips, (no milk was ok but) no milk or coffee – we were having a troubling time and we had no idea how long our ordeal was going to continue. Even the long hours of the school-time were (we were increasingly realising) much better than this (though, a realisation that didn’t last long, once, the school was routine, again). But then, in the circumstances of ‘pushed’ study hours and reduced free time, we were missing the school and the freedom associated with it like anything.

With every passing day, we were getting disappointed, we were getting frustrated and we were getting angry. And on our target were those who took our freedom, who took out rallies, got our school closed, and spread riots. We would curse them in whatever words we could. We even planned to punish them if they came across us. For us, the only culprits were those who orchestrated the rallies, the curfew and the riots and they deserved the severest punishment our thinking could think of.

Our ordeal did make us experience the negatives of words like ‘curfew’ or ‘riots’ but we were still not able to understand why these words were so bad in effect.

We also thought, before punishing them, if they came across us, that we would first ask them the ‘why’ of this ‘badness’ behind ‘curfew’ and ‘riots’ and so of our ‘ordeal’ and the ‘why’ of why they spread it if it was so bad.

The plans still echo, even after so many years, whenever riots kill the humanity. Yes, age brings to you the understanding of ‘why’ of words like curfew and riots but still, the ‘why’ remains.

Why a person kills a person in the name of God when He is the creator of us all, when He is in each of us?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/