“Ayodhya toh bas jhanki hai, Kashi Mathura baaki hai (Ayodhya is a preview, Kashi and Mathura are next in line),” was the BJP and VHP’s war cry of the early ’90s at the peak of the Ram Temple movement leading up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. After today’s verdict that clears the way for a Ram temple at the site, sources in the Sangh Parivar said, this won’t be invoked. At least, for now.
Sources The Indian Express spoke to over the last few weeks and today suggest that both the party and the Parivar are on the same page against using the Ayodhya verdict to other temples beyond the Ram Temple.
“Kashi aur Mathura abhi vishay nahin hain. Pehle toh (Ram) Mandir banana padega. Bharat mein sabhi ke sahyog se bane, aisi ichha hai (Kashi and Mathura are not issues for the moment. First, we will have to build (Ram) Temple. We think it should be done with the cooperation of every Indian,” said a senior RSS functionary. Saying that building the temple itself will take “a long time,” he cited the example of the Somnath Temple which was inaugurated four years after Sardar Patel decided to pursue its resurrection.
“Nishchint…aisa nahin hoga (this is not going to happen, be assured),” said another senior leader after the Supreme Court judgment in response to the query on Kashi and Mathura adding, “this (Ayodhya) temple is our priority”.
A similar suggestion was made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, too, during his brief press interaction after the verdict was announced. “Sangh is not associated with any movement, it is associated with human development. Because of a historical backdrop, the Sangh got associated with this movement as an organisation. It is an exception. Now we will again be associated with human development and this movement will not remain of concern to us,” Bhagwat said in response to a query whether the Sangh would reiterate its claims on mosques in Mathura and Kashi (Varanasi).
“Remember, not a single leader of significance has invoked Kashi and Mathura after Allahabad High Court ruling in 2010. It is an issue that Left liberals want to invoke to whip up passions for ulterior motives,” said another senior RSS functionary early this month after the RSS held a closed-door meeting with the BJP and VHP ahead of the judgment. Many RSS sources present in the Sangh-VHP-BJP coordination meeting confirmed that Kashi and Mathura did not even figure in their discussions.
Even the VHP echoed a similar sentiment after the verdict. “The VHP’s complete focus is on the construction of the temple, a grand temple at Ramjanambhoomi; along with religious awakening. So we do not have time to raise another demand,” said VHP working president Alok Kumar said when asked about Mathura and Kashi after today’s verdict.
The BJP leaders, too, echo this.
“This is the culmination of the temple issue. I do not think the public is ready for a similar mobilisation for Kashi and Mathura yet. Public seems to have moved on,” said a senior BJP functionary. The BJP leader, in this context, also underlined how the party resisted RSS pressure on enacting a legislation for Ram Temple last year.
“This issue (Kashi and Mathura) is not even being discussed…This is only about Ram Temple and there has been no discussion on anything else,” said a source who was part of a conference addressed by RSS leaders Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar the day before the verdict.
“Everyone should accept the verdict. We also… do not think that any one should object to democratic options like peaceful protests, raising the issue in Parliament or even approaching Supreme Court in appeal or review,” said a senior RSS functionary.