By Aditya Aamir
“With public sentiment, all is possible; without it, nothing is,” said Abraham Lincoln. So, is public sentiment with the Hindutva call for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, as it is in Kerala for keeping women of 10-50 age at arm’s length from celibate Swami Ayyappa? Lincoln, if he was of Hindutva ilk, will say ‘yes’, and he was a conservative with a love for theatre, which was where he got shot, in a theatre.
And there has been a lot of theatre on Ram Mandir, more so after it got a makeover to ‘Mandir Wahin Banenga’, taking on a wholly different character, a radical meaning. ‘Maryada Purshotam Ram’ took a back seat and Ram bending his bow to send an arrow to Ravana’s evil heart got upfront. Now, if the Ram bhakts start calling each other ‘Ram’, like Ayyappa devotees heading for Sabarimala hail each other with ‘Ayyappan’, then maybe public sentiment around Ram Mandir might coalesce.
Mahatma Gandhi got shot in a temple compound. He took the bullet in the chest and died with ‘Hey Ram’ on his lips. Gandhi spoke a lot about Ram Rajya, whenever he got an opening, but he never made ‘Ram Mandir at Ayodhya’ a fixation. There were other things on his mind. For one, the country’s independence. Ram was not the key to freedom from the white man.
But the whole thing about Ram and Ayodhya was in the air, a dispute duly taken note of. In court, too. Hanging fire but not the low hanging fruit that the Hindu (or a Muslim) could reach up and pluck. Agnostic Jawaharlal Nehru is believed to have said, “Throw the idol in the Sarayu.” And, today, Sarayu is heard more often than Ganga or Yamuna.
It would be interesting to know what the Sarayu must be thinking of Faizabad-renamed-Sri Ayodhya as if Ayodhya is a human being, full of verve and vigour. The shaven-head, name-changer Yogi probably thinks the name-change is a game-changer – first, the Babri Masjid pulled down; now Faizabad dumped for Sri Ayodhya. “Hey, did the Mughals dip their hands in the Sarayu or not?” people might ask, especially the Muslim who is getting marginalized in a town where Muslims were the talk of the town for donkeys years.
Well, there is this “new Hindu” coming of age in the dusty cow towns and villages of the Hindi heartland, the critical cow-belt, saying, “We believe we are ready to make the call, ready to pick up our legacy and feel proud of being a Hindu.” Sarayu will probably understand the sentiment. For, Sarayu goes back thousands of years, long before Babar set foot in Ayodhya-renamed-Faizabad!
What goes around comes around. Karma! Yogi Adityanath, maybe he doesn’t give the rest of India much to gloat about, but there seems to be a move to build him up as the Hindu-mascot India-Bharat has been waiting for, even spoken of as the “Prime Minister-in-Waiting!”
If that happens many will flip their lid, get a migraine or migrate. And the impression will build that you cannot even pick your poison! Also, was it right for the Supreme Court to postpone Ram Mandir to beyond general elections 2019? The answer is, darned if it did it, and darned if it did not. The apex court chose to give the Modi government/BJP the right to choose.
The ethics behind the top court’s decision must have been not to have a hand in the making of a Ram Mandir. Now, it’s Ordinance or not, and Yogi Adityanath is being talked of and pictured by some as the challenger to Prime Minister Modi. If Modi doesn’t bring a Mandir Ordinance, the Yogi can turn around and say, “Hey, I tried my best, ask my cows!”
The reality is the RSS is on Modi’s back and the Yogi is playing cool. Modi has to take a call on both Ram Mandir and Sabarimala. Modi’s yogic powers are on test. He presented a modern face to the world and got called ‘Chaiwalla’ for it. Now, he has to build the Mandir and get called divisive for it. Darned if he does it, darned if he doesn’t. Unless, ‘Ram’ becomes a wave from sea to shining sea and he pockets a big Lok Sabha win with public sentiment.
To the dispassionate onlooker, all this is fascinating to watch. The Karnataka by-poll results are an eye-opener, but are they? Ram and Ayyappa may or may not translate to electoral tsunamis. Public sentiment cannot be trusted. Why did Yogi talk of hospital, cricket stadium and statue but not about Ram Mandir on Diwali Day? What is he playing at, or shy of? “Hey Ram” and “Hey, Ram” are not the same. One is a sigh, the other is a call. The comma makes all the difference.
Yogi Adityanath is dillydallying, why? He mentions Ram Mandir in the passing and then clams up. The BJP, it seems, cannot make up its mind. Modi and Shah are not declaring intent. Shah, Modi and Yogi know how to tell a story. The Hindu Indian should ask himself “where went who” wrong? Is it ‘Hey Ram’ or ‘Electoral Ram’? (IPA Service)