FOR all the faultlines that the Ayodhya movement engendered, today’s ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone of the Ram temple prompted the Opposition to frame their response in terms of national unity and divinity rather than the BJP. The chorus was an invocation of Ram and underlining of religious co-existence and plurality.
Most illustrative was a statement by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A strong critic of the BJP and its Government, more so in the year before her state elections, her tweet was telling, in English and Bengali: “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai. Aapas mein hain Bhai Bhai! Mera Bharat Mahaan, Mahaan Hamara Hindustan. Our country has always upheld the age-old legacy of unity in diversity, and we must preserve this to our last breath!”
After Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s statement yesterday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi today tweeted: “Maryada Purushottam Lord Ram is the ultimate embodiment of supreme human values. He represents the core of humanism embedded deep in our hearts. Ram is love, he can never appear in hatred. Ram is compassion, he can never appear in cruelty. Ram is justice, he can never appear in injustice.”
Breaking her silence on the issue, BSP chief Mayawati credited the Supreme Court for paving the way for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
At the same time, she acknowledged the political aspect of the conflict in the run-up to today’s event. “As everyone knows, Ayodhya is a holy city of different religions. But, sadly, it had been embroiled in a controversy for several years because of the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid land dispute. The dispute was ended by the Supreme Court and it has also stopped to some extent politics around it played by some parties,” Mayawati said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
“The BSP had been saying from the beginning that our party will accept whatever verdict the Supreme Court gives. And that (the Supreme Court’s verdict) should now be accepted by all. This is the advice of BSP,” she added.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal refrained from commenting politically.
“Jai Mahadev Jai Siya-Ram, Jai Radhe-Krishna, Jai Hanuman,” tweeted Yadav. “Let all be filled with Lord Shiva’s welfare, Sri Ram’s ‘abhayatva’ (fearlessness) and Sri Krishna’s ‘unmukt bhav’ (unfettered gesture). I hope the present and future generations will follow the path shown by the maryada purushottam for the welfare and peace of all.”
Kejriwal congratulated the country for the bhoomi pujan. “May we continue to receive the blessings of Lord Ram. With his blessings, may our country get rid of hunger, illiteracy and poverty, and India become the most powerful nation in the world. May India show the path to the world in the times to come. Jai Shri Ram! Jai Bajrang Bali,” he tweeted.
There were stirrings of some discomfort in the Congress with a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala writing a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi. “We can’t chase an extreme religious nationalism with a soft prototype,” Thrissur MP T N Prathapan wrote. He said “what ultimately matters is not the failures we face, but it is matter that we are not bowing low for the temporary successes.”
In his letter, Prathapan hit out at former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and senior leader Digvijay Singh. “I strongly believe that the assassination of Mahatma Gandhiji and demolition of Babri Masjid were the most treacherous incidents… in independent India. The basic values that this country was built (on) like secularism and pluralism have faced a devastating future…The Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya land dispute was a hope that an era of hate politics would end by it. But unfortunately, it is going on. We cannot take any type of stakes in it. I think that this particular event is a Sangh Parivar sponsored ‘religious political’ one. If we are not invited to this, why would our leaders beg for that?” he asked.
He said the position taken by Priyanka is “acceptable” as “in a way as she is wishing unity in the name of temple.”