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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Abrogation of Article 370, settling of Ram Mandir dispute, signals new beginning

By putting an end to decades-old problems that compromised peace and harmony for years, Modi comes out as a highly-skilled politician, who commands respect even among his opponents.

Written by Shesh Narayan Singh | Updated: August 6, 2020 8:46:48 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives for the groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya (AP)

The auspicious bhoomi pujan for the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple at Ayodhya is done. The pujan was done with proper rituals, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing the chief puja. This historic event marks the end of a 35-year-long dispute.

The Ram Janmabhoomi movement started under the leadership of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Congress then had an overwhelming majority and was in power not just at the Centre but also in most of the states. Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister. His team had rejected the proposal for the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple. This rejection was almost a dream come true for the VHP. Capitalising on the moment, the VHP presented the Congress as standing against the deity, Ram, and the party with just two Lok Sabha seats at the time, as the one standing with him.

The year 2020 marks peace and tranquillity for Ayodhya and the credit for this goes entirely to Modi. After taking oath as prime minister, he had unequivocally remarked that the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple will be done within constitutional boundaries and he has kept his word.

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During the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, there was fierce opposition to it from several quarters and this sometimes led to violent clashes. But, not this time. Today, there is no one against the construction of the temple. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that Ram is in everyone and Ram is with everyone. She added that the spirit of the bhoomi pujan on August 5 should be an occasion for national unity, fraternity and cultural congregation. She also talked about Kabir’s, Tulsidas’s and other great saints’ versions of Ram. In a way, she has announced that there will be no opposition from the Congress in the construction of the temple. While she has not said so explicitly, it appears from the flow of her language that she has kept Modi’s Ram in the same league as the others.

People who saw the inception of Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1986 are well aware of the violence that took place in the name of the Babri Masjid demolition and the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple. They also know that this could have been avoided if Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had given the same response that his daughter has now.

The construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple is being done within the scope of the Indian Constitution. The significant point that cannot be missed is that Modi has kept the BJP’s sister organisations like the Bajrang Dal under control. Extremist leaders have been flushed out of the system. It looks like Modi has given a message that it is with mutual brotherhood that the nation can march ahead not with mutual enmity. It is clear that he wants to run a government in the spirit of Jeremy Bentham’s principle of the “greatest good for the greatest number”.

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The construction of the temple commenced on August 5, and exactly one year ago, Article 370 was abrogated. This was an equally important goal for the RSS. The BJP, from the time of its parent organisation the Jana Sangh, has been against the inclusion of Article 370 in the Constitution. The founder of Jana Sangh, Syama Prasad Mookerjee had gone to Kashmir for the same purpose and during that visit, he lost his life. At the Jana Sangh’s Kanpur session of 1952, a resolution opposing the special status for Jammu and Kashmir was passed.

The puppet leaders in Kashmir, from the very start, at the behest of Pakistan, have been opposing and protesting any move to abrogate Article 370. Even after knowing that it is a temporary provision, subsequent governments — fearing a disturbance in Kashmir and the country as a whole — never had the political will to make it happen. Modi has made it possible. He has also shown the puppet leaders of Kashmir their place. The most interesting point to note here is that, during this whole exercise, there has been zero violence in the country.

By putting an end to decades-old problems that compromised peace and harmony for years, Modi comes out as a highly-skilled politician, who commands respect even among his opponents.

This article first appeared in the print edition on August 6, 2020 under the title ‘A long awaited resolution’. The writer is a political analyst

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