From Somnath to Ayodhya ::Modi junks Nehru model

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In the past week , nothing has caused more angst and hurt among the Hindus who have long cherished raising a Ram Janmbhoomi Temple in Ayodhya than the continued public quibbling over August 5 ceremonies to launch construction of a grand temple for Bhagwan Ram on banks of river Sarayu .

What has come as a surprise was that doubts were sought to be raised just when work on temple construction was about to begin . This was being done even after a full bench of Supreme Court headed by the CJI had unequivocally settled all pending issues in November 2019.First questions were raised about the propriety of Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching a temple as head of a secular government . It was raised by none other than AIMIM chief Asadudin Owaisi who ” deemed PM’s attending bhoomi pujan at Ayodhya as violation of his constitutional oath.” That is because ” secularism is basic structure of the Constitution “. Of course such homilies coming from Owaisi is somewhat rich considering he himself is not known to adhere to parliamentary etiquettes incumbent on him as Lok Sabha MP .

However soon enough the naysayers realised that launch of temple construction by PM Modi had become a fait accompli and could not be put off by raising vague objections. From the launch of Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1991, construction of Ram Mandir had after been a core part of BJP programme ; it has been part of every BJP election manifesto since 1996 Lok Sabha elections. More so for a Government that had won a resounding mandate there was no way its Prime Minister could be bullied into skipping launch of Ayodhya temple by using old mumbo-jumbo of some hackneyed niceties.

Old RSS hands point to how Owaisi attempted to do to Modi what then Prime Minister Jawahar Nehru had done at the time reconstruction of Somnath Temple.Nehru had then strongly objected to then President Rajendra Prasad inaugurating it and even the idea of the project receiving any kind of government support . Somnath Temple had received a princely sum of INR 5 lakhs as support from Saurashtra Government. At that time, Nehru was so sensitive about criticism that had mainly come from Pakistan, that N.V.Gadgil his PWD Minister took the initiative to counter him.

” Millions of Hindus are idol-worshippers and not intellectuals like Nehru. Some of us are subject to the weakness of a firm faith,” Gadgil pointed out .He also pointed out that as the Government gave subsidies and grants to thousands of mosques and tombs and there could be “nothing objectionable if it spent a little money in restoring a Hindu temple”.

To further muddy waters, doubts were sought to be cast on the auspiciousness of the day chosen to commence work at Ayodhya. Had muhurat been chosen correctly ? In these pandemic times , a whole lot of suggestions came pouring in with the Shiv Sena rubbishing the programme and even suggesting an e-inauguration. Now that event is going ahead full steam, the Sena CM one hears is now looking for an invite . In the Congress , leaders from North and South are looking at the event differently. While Kamal Nath openly welcomed it , a Tamil Nadu MP took such a cynical view , he hinted that the temple work could possibly begin during inauspicious Rahul kalam.

It is in this backdrop that a senior Sangh leader points out about why choosing an auspicious muhurat/ time for Ayodhya is now superfluous .” Auspicious time was chosen when shilanayas was done way back in November 1989. It will again be done when idols will be installed . Now what is going to happen is launch of work on the temple. It is pure infrastructure sort of work. ”

Sources admit there is lot of discomfort among those who have worked for the temple cause — the sadhus/ sants feel that a better time could have been chosen.for the ceremonial launch . But any big bang launch would have delayed beginning work on the temple by six months .

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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