Bharat’s RAM moment!

The much-awaited Ram Temple at Ayodhya was consecrated today with the completion of the Pran Pratishtha ritual. Over the last few days or rather weeks, there has been an overwhelming demonstration of Ram/Hindu and Sanatana sentiments and feelings in India and among Indians all over, thanks to social media. Sharing some of the Ram Mandir function related pictures from his neighbourhood, a friend in one of the WhatsApp groups, said – “Ram fever” everywhere. “Ram fervour” – corrected a very informed and scholarly friend. Fervour it is, as I see all around me – in the housing complex, in the streets, in the nearby temple, on Highways, on TV screens and finally social media outlets on a scale unseen so far in my 50+ year life!

There is no doubt that this is truly a historic moment and day in the history of Indian civilisation. But truth be told, was this even thinkable as remotely possible at the beginning of this millennium? Or before in 1998/99, when for the first time BJP came to power albeit as a coalition government? Or for that matter even in 2014 – when the BJP could form a government on its own with an absolute majority? Maybe some of you did think it was possible back then to have the Ram Mandir constructed at the original Ram Janmabhoomi site where the Babri Masjid once stood. But I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime. The reasons are not difficult to fathom if you belong to mine or previous generations. In newspapers today, there is a timeline of Ram Mandir related events from 1528. Even if you don’t want to go that far, personally I have seen twists and turns in this saga for 50 years!

Back in the 80s during the Rajiv Gandhi period, which is when the Ram Janmabhoomi issue mildly germinated, the Congress Government of the day could not have taken the decision to construct the temple fearing a backlash from the Muslim community. Fear of losing the Muslim vote and the need to balance the interests and beliefs of the majority Hindus and minority Muslims made the Rajiv Gandhi government take several missteps which are all well documented.

The V.P. Singh government that followed was a coalition government that had the unique distinction of being supported by the Right (BJP) and the Left parties. The issue of Ram Janmabhoomi took shape into a political movement with the BJP throwing its might and weight behind the issue with L.K.Advani’s famous Rathyatra in 1990 resulting in the fall of the V.P. Singh government.

As an aftermath of this movement when the Babri Masjid mosque fell, the issue became too much of a hot potato for a country that called itself a secular country. I remember the time very well. I was in Kerala as part of my first job when the Masjid fell. I saw the news in the newspaper the next day. I couldn’t believe it. The weekly India Today magazine called it a “National Shame”. In general, the sentiment was that it should not have happened. Even the top BJP leaders lamented about the fact that the masjid was pulled down by kar sevaks. Post this incident, the Narasimha Rao government at that time tried to build consensus between political and religious communities to re-construct the mosque and build a temple. But for consuming a lot of time, these discussions never yielded any result.

The construction of a Ram temple at the place where the mosque stood was always there in BJP’s manifesto ever since. However, in 1998 (short term) and in 1999 when the BJP came to power under the leadership of Vajpayee, it was a coalition government. Therefore, it had to come up with an agenda for governance that had contentious issues like the Ram Mandir out of its purview. Therefore, in those five years, there was no question of doing anything related to the Ram Mandir.  Even in 2004, when BJP was going for its re-election, there was no hope in hell that it would get a majority on its own which meant that the temple issue would just be on paper in the manifesto.

In any case, in the following two elections – from 2004 to 2014, BJP was not in power. Congress heading a coalition government would never bring the issue of the Ram temple ever fearing for its vote bank. Its coalition partners also had a lot at stake with the Muslim vote and therefore, it was out of the question that the Ram Mandir issue would ever be raked up.

In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the Ram Mandir promise remained in the manifesto of the BJP but since it apprehended that it would have to depend on allies to form a government ultimately, it didn’t talk too much of the Mandir in its poll promotions. It was all about Achhe Din and Abki baar Modi Sarkar. In 2017, the Supreme Court said that the Ayodhya issue is very sensitive and should be resolved out of court. Coincidentally 2017 was the year when BJP came back to power in the state of Uttar Pradesh that too with an overwhelming majority. This, in my opinion, was the turning point in the whole history of the Ram Mandir – a vital one that paved the way for a court-driven verdict when the attempt to come to a settlement out of courts failed.

The first hopes of a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya came up in August 2019 when the Supreme Court began day-to-day hearings on the matter when all mediation attempts failed. Eventually, only when the Supreme Court gave its unanimous Verdict in November of 2019 in favour of a Ram Mandir at the disputed site identifying it as the birthplace of Ram, did one get hope that Ram Mandir will become a reality.

Armed with the Supreme Court verdict, the Modi government went all out to ensure that the construction gets off the ground and the temple is built before the nation goes to the polls in May 2024. Credit must be given for the kind of focus and push from the Prime Minister so much so that even during Covid, time was not lost in ensuring work continued. That he got his trusted advisor Nirpendra Misra, once his Principal Secretary in the PMO to oversee the whole process was a masterstroke.

Today when the Ram Mandir was consecrated, it was indeed an overwhelming moment for millions of Indians who thought that Ram Mandir would never be a reality. It manifested in the enormous outpouring of Bhakti, Aastha and joy in the streets. The man of the moment is of course Narendra Modi who took it upon his shoulders to ensure that the whole process is conducted with due reverence to procedures and rituals. His speech today after the Pran Pratishtha function was one of his best where he said this was just the beginning of the journey for Bharat to attain the greatness it deserved. For those of us who have lived with Ram Mandir being referred to as an issue, it is now no longer an “issue”. This is Bharat’s RAM moment with the congregation of the spirits of Renaissance – Aastha – Modi!

0 thoughts on “Bharat’s RAM moment!”

  1. Excellent Anand 👏👏 You covered & articulated so well that it would be appropriate to headline this blog as *Journey to Ayodhya Ram in Independent India*. As you rightly said what we saw was unprecedented euphoria, not experienced so far in our generation. Along the way, it bursted many myths
    – Ram n related events won’t resonate well with common people
    – Anyone celebrating is driven by *Manufactured Bhakti* propped only for political dividends

    When we look back, lot of ground has been covered in this issue.
    Yes, we had come a long way indeed 😊

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top