Temple run since 1996
In the run-up to Lok Sabha elections starting April 11, BJP's manifesto highlights their penchant for an ideology spanning a range of areas in terms of impact: Citizenship Amendment Bill, nationalism, and the 'expedicious construction' of Ram Temple. While nationalism has been exploited to ridiculous extents, and has arguably been thrust into conflict with the plurality and diversity of India, reiterating the commitment to enact the Citizenship Amendment Bill which will accommodate immigrating Hindus (due to persecution) from neighbouring countries stands against the value of secularism as it reeks of a religious bias for Hindus who might seek refuge and not other victims of such persecutions. India is not strictly a Hindu homeland despite the majority of the population being Hindu. Respect for minorities together with the prevalence of the majority in India is a national value that has garnered international repute. Given that the Hindu society in its predominant expanse defines the most prominent cultural identity of the country, making a point to assert this dominance is bound to draw criticism as the wide-spread prevalence threatens to turn into dominance, which can eventually result in oppression. Moreover, there is no one brand of Hinduism to subscribe to; from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to the farthest tip of the exotic Northeast, there are varieties of Hinduism across the length and breadth of the nation. Among all the shades and colours of this faith system, Ram is just one of them. And the ruling party subscribes to this particular brand of Hinduism. And Ram is not every Indian's god. Making use of this proposition, however, raking up the Sabarimala matter for down south, the politics played around matters of faith is but a smokescreen to prevent attention from going towards the real issues that can instill or shake faith in democracy and government. The demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992 in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh is a blemish on the Indian democracy and polity. The historical debate surrounding the precise site of Ram Janma Bhoomi in the ancient times and construction of a mosque by a Mughal general there in the medieval period (it could have been a heritage monument) took politically volatile overtones in modern times. Mobilisation to retrieve the birthplace of Ram was electorally motivated and has no cultural significance whatsoever. Ram Mandir has featured in successive Lok Sabha manifestos released by BJP since 1996 - the first Lok Sabha polls since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of 1992 which eventually led to the demolition of Babri Masjid and propelled the BJP to electoral success.
The obvious question that now rears its head is: How does the construction of a temple or demolition of a mosque bring general welfare? How does this make the quality of life of common people any better? How does it enhance education or uplift women or fight off the evils of caste systems? In the more contemporary context, how does this ambition achieve the target of mitigating unemployment and generating more jobs? How does this clean pollutant-laden air and manage wastes of all kinds? Obviously, this temple talk does nothing to address the pervasive issues plaguing the common, humble Indian. The government ought to be prioritising development and welfare but here we see a narrow ideology taking precedence over the priorities.