The people of India have given the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi a second term with an even bigger majority than they did in 2014. The party has won 303 seats on its own and has got more than 50 per cent vote share in as many as 16 states and Union Territories.
In fact, the BJP along with its allies — they too rode the Modi wave — got the same vote share, 45 per cent, in an intensely competitive and fractured environment, that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru did in the first election to the Lok Sabha, when there was virtually no opposition to the Congress. Then, only 1,849 candidates from 53 parties contested, as against 8,040 from over 2,000 registered parties this time.
Whichever way you look at it, the 2019 victory of the BJP is the biggest and most defining ever, in India’s history.
A number of factors have, undoubtedly, contributed to this thumping and unprecedented win, but the one that really turned the wave of 2014 into the tsunami of 2019, is the trust that people have in Prime Minister Modi’s intention and ability to deliver what he promises. By that yardstick, there has not been another PM like him.
Though this has given him a heady win, it also means that the fall will be precipitous, if he fails to live up to expectations during his second term.
In Existence, Courtesy Lord Ram
But for Shri Ram, BJP would still be languishing as a perennial loser at the national level. He gave BJP its first big win in Uttar Pradesh and, later, in the Centre. But the moment the BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee formed the government, it consigned the promised Ram Temple at Ram Janmabhoomi to the dustbin. People saw in it a betrayal of the worst kind, and in 2004, made it clear that they had not voted for a poor Xerox of the Congress party.
Although there was little forward movement on the Ram Temple during Modi’s first term, there was no abandonment of it either. In fact, in the run-up to the elections, BJP made every effort to assure its voters that that the party was committed to it, and needed a second Modi term to see it through.
In 2010, just before the Allahabad High Court delivered its verdict in the Ram Temple case, Lutyens media, expecting a verdict in favour of Muslims, went into overdrive to convince Hindus that India — read Hindus — had moved on and was no longer interested in a Ram Temple at Ramjanmabhoomi. The usual ‘Hindu’ suspects were also pressed into service, allegedly at the behest of Sonia Gandhi’s Congress party, to call Shri Ram a mythical figure, and make a case for building a hospital or a school at the holy spot, to liberate which Hindus have been fighting for centuries.
No one asked, then, whether Muslims had moved even an inch, and no one questioned their continuing support, even post-1947, for the invading barbarian who had razed the original Ram Temple in 1528.
If Ram Is Faith, So Is Allah. Why The Selective Demand For Proof Of Existence?
Ram is faith, as is Allah. In matters of faith, there never can be historical evidence or proof of the sort that courts of mortals require. Allah and Ram are real and living for those who believe and mythical for those who don't. Allah revealed Himself to the Prophet through an angel no one else saw or heard. Ram revealed Himself to Valmiki, a Dalit dacoit who became a saint after much penance, and, later, to Goswami Tulsidas. This is the belief of their followers. They do not need any 'proof' of their existence, or of Ram’s birth at the Janmasthan.
Lawyer Asaduddin Owaisi says the Supreme Court cannot decide the case in favour of Hindus on faith; it has to adjudicate solely on the basis of legal evidence. But Owaisi, a staunch Islamist, wants the Babri Mosque to be resurrected because, as per his understanding of his faith, only a mosque can be built at a spot where a mosque once existed. When told that mosques are regularly razed and shifted in Muslim countries, including the home of Islam, Saudi Arabia, he says what happens elsewhere is of no consequence; in India, his interpretation of his faith holds.
In sum, what this means is that the Supreme Court and the Hindu faith must both yield to Muslim faith, as interpreted by Owaisi, Babri Masjid Action Committee and their ilk, and agree to building a mosque instead of a Ram Temple at the holiest of holy Hindu spots. At the same time, they are also fine with temples - not built over mosques - still being destroyed brazenly in parts of undivided India currently under Muslim rule, the Kashmir Valley included. It is this attitude that has made anti-Muslim a positive Temple sentiment that never was anti-Mosque or anti-Muslim to begin with; no other mosque was attacked anywhere.
Be that as it may, the reality is that the invader-built structure has gone and a functional temple is in place at the Janmasthan. Hindus have shown enormous tolerance and patience, qualities that have enabled them to survive and outlast all other civilisations of the world, in so far as the building of a grand temple there is concerned. This is not ‘moving on’ as rootless Lutyenites like to believe, but a civilisational and spiritual maturity that followers of aggressive and violent “me-only” ideologies cannot fathom.
But, let there be no doubt that should anyone try to remove the idols of Ram Lalla from the temple, much less construct a mosque over it, Hindus will not embrace them with a naive sentiment of brotherhood.
In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi got the locks of the disputed structure opened. In 1989, he not only allowed shilanyas of the Ram Temple at the disputed site, but also began his own election campaign from Ayodhya with a promise to usher in Ram Rajya if elected. Had he lived and won power, there is little doubt that a grand Ram Temple would have come up, and much of what happened later avoided.
An Italian Job, Deviously Done
Unfortunately, with the rise of Sonia Gandhi, his Italian-born wife, who is said to have become an Indian citizen only eight years before his assassination, Islamic fundamentalists and Hindu-hating Marxists became all-powerful, and what looked like an easy resolution became an intractable confrontation that frightened even leaders of the BJP. Ever since then, every politician has been trying to squeeze political milk out of the situation. That milk, as Guru Nanak once demonstrated in another but related context, is red in colour, and people have seen it.
In 2014, many people, a large section of Hindus particularly, voted for Narendra Modi because he was quite unlike timorous BJP leaders who craved acceptance by ‘secular’ political parties and the Lutyens ecosystem, even if it meant betraying the causes they espoused and got votes for. Five patient years later, they have given him another five years, because they have sound reasons to believe that he will not sell them short, even though they are troubled by his prioritising of minority appeasement over core issues that set the BJP apart from Rahul Gandhi’s Congress.
The Supreme Court’s delaying tactics, the Congress party’s treachery - it is paying dearly for it - and the intransigence of Islamists notwithstanding, people expect Prime Minister Modi to finally undo this grievous historical wrong and find a way to clear the road for construction of a grand Ram Temple well before 2024.
All Hopes On PM Modi
People see in Narendra Modi the leader they were looking for but never found, and will not accept any excuse from him for failure on this count. They have patiently made, suffered and seen off leaders who failed them, and have given Modi a historic mandate so that he can unlock the door that his predecessors were afraid to even knock, and give Ram Lalla the temple He has been patiently waiting for. They are now convinced that its time has come.
No one knows this better than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
Vinod Sharma tweets at @vinod_sharma.
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