Implications of the Ram Temple in India

Long before the coming to power of a declared Hindu nationalist government in India in 2014, the inauguration of the Ram temple was clearly on the agenda of militant Hindu organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Sayamsebak Sangh (RSS), and the entire Sangh-Parivar, whose political wing (BJP) runs the country. Mandir Wahi Banayenge (“Let’s erect the Temple there!”) is a popular Hindutva slogan. But what is the significance of this temple? And why is it so prominent in Modi’s policy?

The Ram Temple controversy has been a fulcrum of Indian politics for the last three decades. On the place where it has been erected, a mosque stood for centuries. On 6 December 1992, an armed militant Hindu group vandalised the mosque. They spuriously claimed it in turn was built on the site of a Hindu temple, demolished by Muslim Nawabs during the Mughal period sometime before 1528 A.D. 

As a consequence of this vandalism, the entire northern India was plunged into fratricidal violence between Hindus and Muslims, reenacting the horror of partition riots. The epicentre of the riots was Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country, but it spread throughout Delhi, Haryana, and Gujrat. A large number of women were raped, and their breasts were lacerated, while male victims were cut to pieces. 

The whole of Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP now is in state government, was turned into a gigantic graveyard of innocent Muslims by the end of 1992. The so-called justification was based on lies: there isn’t a shred of evidence that any temple existed anywhere near the contested site in 1528, as was reported by the Archeological Survey of India when the case was under the jurisprudence of Allahabad High Court. 

Nevertheless, stories of Hindu victimhood were being weaved to justify the present violence against Muslims. The demolition of the mosque was a political move on the part of VHP and RSS in 1992, violent Hindutva organisations with a clear aim of permanently polarising the north of Indian society on religious lines. 

After the riots, the BJP lost the county in the 1993 elections, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) winning based on votes by Dalits, backward castes, and Muslims. 

However, a pan-Indian Hindu identity was being brought into the collective imagination to inseparably connect Hindus’ religious identity with the temple, which consolidated the BJP’s Hindu vote in northern India during this period. This was summed up in an interview with Mahant Ramachandra Paramahan, then-president of Sri Ramjanmabhumi Trust, an initiative set up by VHP to campaign for the Ram Temple:

“Our Hindu Rashtra mission in Ayodhya and Bharath as a whole is very similar to the waves in the sea. The size, the force and the intensity of the sea waves vary from time to time, but they never stop. It may look static, at times for the casual viewer, but the waves are moving and building up underneath, ready to strike big at the next opportune moment. In other words, our mission and the work related to it never stop. Kaam Jaari Hain (Work is on)”. 

In the 2014 parliamentary election campaign, the BJP and Modi, formerly the chief minister of Gujarat, made the establishment of the Ram Temple a declared aim. Modi explicitly stated in a speech in Navi Mumbai that should the countrymen elect his party, the Ram Temple inauguration would be among the top priorities of the Indian government. Now, a decade later, that commitment is being fulfilled.

In other words, the inauguration of the Ram Temple represents the fulfilment of a reactionary Hindutva fantasy, based on a historical falsehood, with a legacy of communal bloodletting. It is an emblem of Modi’s chauvinist agenda, aiming at satisfying the most backward prejudices of his base. It is also an expensive, environmentally damaging and mismanaged indulgence, at a time when ordinary Indians lack the necessities of life.

We communists say: the Indian people don’t need new temples. They don’t need more toxic division. They need fair wages, and access to hospitals, schools and homes! They need a decent existence!

Modi and the Sangh-Parivar’s programme and ideas offer nothing but chauvinism, obscurantism and empty mythologies! For a better future, we need to address the real needs of society! For that, we need a revolutionary solution!