Let's Turn Ayodhya into the Sangh Parivar's Waterloo

Dipankar Bhattacharya

The NDA government has managed to win the Ayodhya motion in the Lok Sabha. Given the parliamentary arithmetic, an NDA victory was of course a kind of foregone conclusion. In spite of the noise being made by so-called angry NDA partners like TDP and Trinamul Congress, nobody really expected them to quit NDA as yet. It is however noticeable that the former Janata Parivar members like Samata Party, JD(U) and the newly formed Jan Shakti of Ram Vilas Paswan did not even bother to express any kind of formal dissent on this issue.

he opposition tally could have of course been greater but for the absence of some Congress MPs and the deliberate abstention of the BSP. While the failure of the Congress to exert its full strength exposed the party’s continuing vulnerability to the communal cancer, the BSP’s decision to abstain has revealed the endless extent of its opportunism. It is now clear that the BJP-BSP pact in UP is not a thing of past, it is still a live possibility. And it is also clear that the political opportunism of BSP flourishes on a reactionary ideological ground. For all its rantings against Manuvad, the BSP has enough ideological ground in common with BJP -- rabid anti-communism, deliberate silence of economic issues and now the ‘neutrality’ on Ayodhya are three important points of ideological proximity underlying the BSP-BJP political deal. Dalit activists and Ambedkarites must ponder if it is possible to ‘save’ the Constitution of India on such a marshy ideological ground.

olstered by the parliamentary victory, the BJP has accelerated its already aggressive campaign on Ayodhya. All wings of the Sangh Parivar have stepped up their activities according to the RSS blueprint of division of labour. Reports of renewed attacks on religious minorities and their places of learning and worship are pouring in from various parts of the country. The VHP is working overtime for the forthcoming Kumbh Mela and reports indicate that preparations are proceeding apace for the eventual construction of Ram temple in place of the demolished Babri Masjid. Advani has started ridiculing the CBI chargesheet while Bangaru Laxman openly says that the court cannot ignore the ‘ground reality’ of a temple already existing on the site which was home to the Babri Masjid for more than four centuries. By all indications, the Sangh Parivar is bracing up for a second showdown over Ayodhya.

he Liberhan Commission formed immediately in the wake of the December 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid is showing some degree of belated activism. The attitude of the accused politicians and bureaucrats to the Commission has of course been marked by deliberate non-cooperation and even contempt. Going by the experience of the Sri Krishna Commission and numerous other commissions formed over the last five decades, one can only speculate on the future of the Liberhan Commission and the fate of whatever report it may eventually produce. But knowing as we do the Sangh Parivar and the Indian judiciary, it will be an unpardonable folly on the part of secular forces to remain content with Vajpayee’s assurances to ‘abide by the court’s verdict’.

f the Sangh Parivar is preparing for a second showdown, so must the forces of secularism and democracy. Eight years ago, the secular forces were certainly not caught napping, but they were systematically let down by most of the leaders, parties and institutions they had banked upon. This time round, the secular-democratic resistance must overcome all its inhibitions and vacillations and prepare for giving a fitting rebuff to the communal fascist challenge. Ayodhya is turning out to be an epic battle. If round one went to the saffron brigade, we must make sure that the present round is won decisively by the forces of secular democracy. The BJP has begun to lose on many fronts, let Ayodhya prove to be its Waterloo.