...................Balbir K Punj
The country heaved a sigh of relief on March 15, after the shiladan at Ayodha passed off peacefully. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had the satisfaction of conducting its religious ceremonies. The Government was able to enforce the Supreme Court verdict of March 13 in letter and spirit, without causing any bloodshed.
The "secularists" (read the Congress, Communists and Communalists combine), however, are fidgety; in fact, they are greatly disappointed. Their spurious political calculus has been exposed. The political vultures were hoping for a confrontation between a government under pressure to implement the court orders and a VHP determined to carry on with its puja plans.
The "secularists" had nursed a pipedream that the highly motivated Ramsevaks would spill blood in Ayodhya. This would end in countrywide riots. The NDA allies, already uneasy with the fear of losing minority votes, would break out of the Government and, lo and behold, the Vajpayee Government would be on the mat! Then the political brokers (of the Harkishan Singh Surjeet variety) will worm into the government. Possible loss of a few hundred lives in riots was a small price for them to install a "secular" government at the Centre. After all the Communists have the global record of seizing power through conspiracies dipped in blood.
Those of us who find it a bit far fetched should recall contemporary history. Rajiv Gandhi ascended to the Delhi throne with 400 seats in Lok Sabha in the aftermath of macabre massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in the wake of Mrs Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984. Marxists have physically liquidated or maimed their political rivals running into hundreds, in order to maintain their hold in West Bengal and Kerala.
The virulence of Ms Sonia Gandhi's attack on the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha subsequently, was an index of her frustration over the fact that most probably the chain of events did not follow the script in her mind. The Congress president accused Mr Vajpayee of conniving with the VHP in sending his official to Ayodhya to receive the consecrated shilas. The Leader of the Opposition forgot that her husband was the Prime Minister in 1986 when the locks of the temple were first opened.
They are raising objections to the stand of Attorney General in the Supreme Court. Will they go back to 1986 when Mr Narayan Dutt Tiwari representing the Central Government was in the district court of Faizabad and the magistrate asked whether the Government anticipated any breach of peace if the 50-year-old locks were broken? Tiwari said: None.
In 1989, shilanyas for the temple was done close to the disputed site. Then Union Home Minister Buta Singh supervised the ceremony with the VHP in tow. Were 1986 and 1989 conspiracies of connivance between the Congress and the VHP? Perhaps being a foreigner for the good part of her life, the Congress president is ignorant of even recent chronicles.
The problem in Ayodhya is not the VHP's creation. Ever since the invader destroyed a temple there and substituted it with a victory memorial in the shape of a mosque in 1528 AD to humiliate the conquered, repeated attempts were mounted to reclaim it. In British India, the dispute took a legal turn.
A case was registered by Mahant Raghubar Das in Faizabad district court as early as March 18, 1886.
It is pertinent to recall these annals in the context of the Congress's scathing charges that the BJP is conspiring to garner votes out of this dispute. On the contrary, the shoe is on the other foot. The 1980s saw close discussions first by Indira Gandhi and then Rajiv Gandhi in seeking to hand over the land for temple construction. This led to Rajiv launching his 1989 election campaign from Ayodha. Has the present leader of the same party forgotten recent history created by her husband? It is a different issue that people saw through the farce and did not vote for him. Significantly, the BJP got a big electoral boost in that elections. In contrast, the BJP led NDA Government has honoured the Court's order of March 13. It has fulfilled its constitutional obligations even if against the demands of its supporting social and political base.
The secularists' grammar is a strange phenomenon that does not permit the Government to talk with people who have been agitating over a cause for the last 50 years! But the same Government is being harangued day in and day out by the same "secularists" and human rights activists to talk with Kalashnikov wielding militants in Nagaland, terrorists in Kashmir and bomb throwing Naxalites. Hurriyat leaders Gilani and other who swear by Pakistan day in and day out or Naga leader Muivah who refused to accept that he was an Indian citizen and lives abroad, are all people with whom government officers at the highest level can confer, at home and abroad.
Government emissary Padmanabhiah could fly to Amsterdam to meet with militant Naga leaders but if an official receives a piece of consecrated stone from a highly respected saint, "secularism is in danger." The secularists' rulebook expects the system to embrace and negotiate with all those who project themselves as enemies of the country and have declared a war against civil society. In contrast, they gleefully term the torchbearers of Indian traditions and values as untouchables.
Thanks to the hype created by these "secularists", Ayodhya was turned into a virtual cantonment prior to March 15. Army held flag marches and the holy city, swarming with security personnel, was sealed from all sides. Services of trains and buses were disrupted and so were the fundamental rights of the Ram Sevaks and the hapless inhabitants of the besieged sacred town.
However, anti-national elements, with no stake in the system, are seldom put to such difficulties. Look at the kid-glove treatment extended to thousands of Bangladeshi infiltrators. In several border districts of the North-East and West Bengal, the demographic character is gradually changing. And when did you last hear an attempt by the establishment to throw them out? None in the law enforcing agencies dare touch this hornet's nest for fear of secularists creating a furore over the "fundamental and human rights" of the infiltrators.
But the Ramsevaks whose "mischief" potential possibly could have gone to the extent of chanting "Jai Shri Ram" and "Bharat Mata ki jai", and performing a ceremony to start the construction of a temple on "undisputed land" (acquired from VHP and Nyas), had no such privileges! Muslim infiltrators have more rights than the "Ram dhun" chanting Ram Sevaks!
Please don't buy the argument that secular cabal was insisting on status quo in Ayodhya in deference to the wishes of the Supreme Court. Scores of judgments (including Shah Bano) have been overturned through constitutional changes, mostly to pander to sectional interests. For them "status quo" means that the vexed issue remains alive and festers. In case it is resolved without bloodshed, they would lose one prime instrument of keeping up the insecurity complex amongst the Muslims.
On March 15, the "secularists" did suffer a setback. And the Don Quixotes will meet a final defeat after the Shri Ram temple comes up in all glory at the sacred spot, hopefully with the help of Muslims. **
** Hopefully, grander and more majestic than The Vatican and twice in size and splendour than the Grand Mosque in Mecca.