The BJP–RSS’s new gambit: Mobilise Hindus by attacking the Supreme Court

A board reading, “Ram lalla ko aasan do, phir humko sushasan do”—First give infant deity Ram his seat, then give us good governance. The hoardings at the rally on Sunday indicated that the Sangh Parivar is asking its supporters to not show patience for the Supreme Court verdict. Antariksh Jain
10 December, 2018

At its dharm sabha in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on 9 December, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh displayed a troubling pattern of attacking the Supreme Court for its October 29 ruling that adjourned hearings on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute until the first week of January.

“There is a limit to waiting for the court’s decision,” Suresh “Bhaiyyaji” Joshi, the sarkaryavah—general secretary—of the RSS, said at the rally. “Bringing in a law is the only option for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.”

Anyone who heard or saw his speech must have recognised how cleverly he asked the government to sidestep the Supreme Court. “Those who are in power today had promised to construct the Ram temple. They should listen to the people and fulfil the demand of a temple in Ayodhya. They are aware of the sentiments,” he said. “We are not begging for it. Passing a law is the only option for building a Ram temple,” Joshi added.

Joshi’s attack gains significance coming merely weeks after the Bharatiya Janata Party president, Amit Shah, hit out at the apex court on 27 October for its verdict allowing entry into the Sabarimala temple for women of all ages. Shah had said that courts should not pass verdicts that cannot be implemented. Joshi’s belligerence implies that the BJP is considering the demonisation of the Supreme Court as a means to mobilise Hindus for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Sunday’s rally was attended by thousands of people bussed in from different parts of Delhi and the NCR. This was the Sangh Parivar’s second such dharma sabha, following the one organised in Ayodhya on 25 November. In fact, the Ayodhya rally, which was marked by an unprecedented boycott by most local sadhus, also witnessed a veiled attack on the Supreme Court. Most of the speakers, including the RSS’s joint general secretary Krishna Gopal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Champat Rai, appeared angry with the court for not speeding up the Ayodhya case and demanded that the government must bring in a law to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple.

In its last hearing on the matter on 29 October, a three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, had dismissed the Uttar Pradesh government’s request that the court take up the dispute after its Diwali break. “We have our own priorities. Whether hearing would take place in January, March or April would be decided by an appropriate bench,” Justice Gogoi said. He also clarified that appeals would come up in January before a bench “not for hearing but for fixing the date of hearing.”

As this effectively means that a verdict is unlikely before the next Lok Sabha elections—expected to be held in April and May next year—the RSS has been demanding that the union government sidestep the Supreme Court and bring in a law to start temple construction without further delay.

No less significant at Sunday’s rally was the display of provocative hoardings, one of which clearly encouraged violence for the construction of the Ram temple: “Jago jago jago ae Bharat ki santaan, bahut ho chuki shanti sadhana ab ho shar sandhan”—Arise and awake, oh children of India; enough practising peace, it’s time to string the bow. This hoarding, as well as other equally inflammatory ones, is yet another indication of the Sangh Parivar asking its supporters not to show further patience for the court’s judgment and be ready to appropriate the disputed land in Ayodhya by force.

The BJP’s desperation with regard to the Ayodhya issue also implies that the revival of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is being considered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP president Amit Shah as the only way to retain power in 2019.