The Questions Against the Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan: Are they Justified, Smart?
The overarching liberal position, transcending geo-political barriers, has always been propounded as that of one which possesses the aptitude and the chutzpah to take into account the innumerable nuances which are, or might be, associated with a particular case before arriving at a conclusion with regards to the same, irrespective of what the conclusion may look like.
The conservative or the ‘right-wing position’ on the other hand, has perennially been typecast and labelled as that of one which overzealously assumes the (un)justified end result of any given contestation at the outset, before even considering the available material at hand due to the rigid mold of ideological compulsions it functions within. However, when it comes to the Ram Janmbhoomi, people who find classification under those with a liberal bent of mind have chosen to effectively take nuance and sacrifice it at the altar of perceived equality.
Now, will it be considered illiberal if someone were to try and oust them? Irrespective, I will try.
However, ever since the date of the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya has been announced, i.e. on the 5th of August, certain self-supposed and self-proclaimed secular liberal elements from the society have emerged from the shadows, who by the looks of it, were harbouring a deep-seated antipathy towards the Supreme Court’s verdict on the issue. These elements have taken to live television, as well as to the courts, to display their discontent and clamour noisily for the halting of the ceremony raising some rhetorical questions. It now becomes imperative for the society-at-large to put these questions through a litmus test to see if they have any bearing in regard to merit or validity, or are they just aimed at trying to desperately flog a dead horse in hopes of resuscitating it.
Saket Gokhale, an RTI activist who is also considered to be a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, approached the Allahabad High Court in an attempt to secure a stay on the Bhoomi Pujan proceedings which are scheduled to occur on the 5th of August in Ayodhya citing a potential violation of lockdown prescriptions. The High Court was quick in notifying the public that they did not share Gokhale’s concern in the least bit, as they discarded his PIL by labelling it as one which was premised upon ‘assumptions.’
The CPI-M thereafter wrote to the Prime Minister Office’s (PMO) demanding that the ceremony not be telecasted by the state’s public broadcaster, Doordarshan, as it would be a gross violation of India’s secular ethics and ideals. However, every year on 25th December, Doordarshan live broadcasts the midnight mass and the Pope’s message straight from the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. So, if the latter religious broadcast can pass muster on the anvils of secularism, then why is the society tolerating the sabotaging of the former’s? Has the definition of secularism changed from being tolerant of all faiths to be tolerant of the intolerance of another faith or worldview?
Assaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), has also raised questions alluding to whether the PM’s visit to the temple site for the ceremony will be justified when viewed through a secular prism or not. His logic is how it can be considered as severely immoral for a public representative to overtly associate with the functioning of a particular religion in the open. So, why was it acceptable when PM Modi went to the Saifee Nagar Bohra Masjid in Indore? Why was it acceptable when PM Modi again sent a ‘chadar’ to Ajmer Sharif? Also, why is it that no one batted an eyelid when former PM Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Akshar Dham Temple?
Moreover, Owaisi himself has inaugurated innumerable numbers of mosques in the past, pictures of which are easily accessible on the internet. The very name of his own party, in fact, is also an explicit association with the beliefs of a particular religious community. Furthermore, in the past, Owaisi, who never fails to add epithets like that of a ‘constitutional patriot’ before his name, has also openly incited violence against Kamlesh Tiwari due to him indulging in blasphemy in a free country, which then resulted in the latter’s lynching. All considered, how can it be feasible for anyone to accept lessons on secularism from these ‘liberals’ and ‘paragons of secularism?’
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has also jumped in uninvited on the non-issue and suggested that the ceremony on 5th August be carried out through ‘video conferencing.’ It is amusing and astounding to see the son of Balasaheb Thackeray trying to attach an asterisk around the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony. It is precisely so because sacred soil from prominent temples from across the country and water from almost all religiously significant water bodies in India is going to be used as a part of the foundation on top of which the Ram Temple will be built during the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony, which is something video conferencing cannot facilitate even in an atheist’s wildest of dreams. So, how is it that Uddhav Thackeray, a self-professed devout Hindu, is unaware of this?
Furthermore, some factions from society have also questioned as to whether these rituals can even be categorised as something justifiable or not. I will make this statement bluntly. One does not get to flabbergast the validity of Hindu rituals for the same reason that one also, by the same yardstick, does not get to question the ‘science’ behind the practice of immersing a newborn into ‘holy water’ from another religion, or the humanistic rationale behind the indiscriminate slaughtering of unassuming goats during the festivities of a different religion. The ability to practice one’s religion and faith is protected and ensured by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, no community can be expected to be obliged to court out to the whims and fancies of modernity and its arbitrary notions about what constitutes progress or secularism, both not being even remotely synonymous.
In addition, if it is the belief of people from certain sections of society that the present dispensation is reaping political dividends by investing in ideas like that of the Ram Temple or even the Indian Army for example, then they should understand that these things cannot be viewed through an exclusivist prism because they appeal to people from all sections and parts of the country irrespective of identity considerations. Therefore, the correct way of countering such a modus operandi, if there even exists one, can never be that of being at loggerheads against the army or the site of pilgrimage of a religion indigenous to this soil but, it should be that of being able and willing to show a gargantuan section of the public that the concept of only one particular political party having their best interests at heart is bogus, which nobody from the left has even remotely been able to do.
If the liberal establishment’s sanctimonious approach towards presenting themselves and handling matters of public importance is not rightfully tended to in the near future, then they might as well start preparing early for 2029.
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. G Plus may not subscribe to the same)