The Ayodhya Judgement to hand over the disputed land for construction of Ram temple and providing alternative land to Muslims for construction of Mosque is being welcomed not only by the Sangh Parivar but also the parties which claim to be secular. This includes Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Telugu Desam Party. This is being portrayed as an issue which has finally been addressed.
Ayodhya Judgement raises concerns rather than provide solutions. In a situation of conflict between different groups, where one affected (Muslims due to Babri demolition) and one inflictor (Hindutva groups involved in demolition), as per fairness of Justice a judgement in favour of rebuilding of Babri Mosque should have been the most ideal. However, transfer of an entire land (where Babri masjid once stood) to Hindutva groups means that the principle of fairness of justice has been compromised. As a compensation, Muslims have been asked to construct Mosque in an alternative 5 acre land.
The Hindutva groups which were involved in communal mobilization and destruction of the Mosque now has started talking the language of peace. Weeks before the judgement it instructed its cadres not to celebrate the event. The Prime Minster following the judgement stated in his tweet “this verdict must not be seen as either victor or loss. Does not matter if you are a Ram Bhakt or Rahim Bhakt, it’s time to strengthen Bharat Bhakti”. If Bharat Bhakti is about acceptance by minorities of a judgement which favours the majority, it reflects the emergence of a new normal where minorities need to be prepared to fit in to the majoritarian demands and accept a status of second grade citizens within the country. And in this the majoritarian sentiments would be the determining factor and not the rule of law.
The same Hindutva groups which spoke about accepting the judgement of the Supreme Court on Ayodhya, were the ones which went contrary to the Supreme Court decisions on two events recently. The first was the decision related entry of women in Sabarimala temple and second was the Supreme Court order to initiate a law to deal with mob lynching. Going against Supreme Court decision, the Hindutva groups mobilised people against women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple. When it came to Mob lynching, neither has an action been initiated to develop a piece of legislation or action taken against inflictors of violence. Hence, acceptance of Supreme Court is only situational. In this context, Hindutva groups welcomed the Court decision as it did fit with its majoritarian approach at the cost of justice.
The response to the judgement shows that saffron ideology has penetrated everywhere. Political Parties are taking care to ensure that by questioning the judgement, they do not get branded as anti-Hindu and alienate the majority Hindus. A competitive struggle for Hindu votes has set in. What is being seen is not minority appeasement as was alleged earlier but what is emerging is majoritarian pacification. There is hardly any resistance to the judgment even by the political parties which claim to be secular. Any critic of the judgement is seen as nothing but losing Hindu votes. When the institutions including judiciary and parties succumb to majoritarianism in the fear that they might be considered anti-Hindu and stop talking about justice, then the days of secularism (in whatever little form) as it existed is over. When the institutions of justice and parties expected to raise above religion fail to represent voices and become extensions and voices of the saffron party, then it is the new trendsetter in the emerging New India. Saffron wave is pushing institutions and parties in its own direction.
Along with NRC, Article 370, Ayodhya Judgement, when least resistance has been provided by political parties to communally determined actions, then it shows that institutions and parties have succumbed to saffron wave. The latest fashion is not to resist but to move with the flow. It shows that the institutions and parties are merely aiming at existing. The best way to exist is to go with the flow. Perhaps this is being seen as pragmatism which needs to replace idealism. When party in power, institutions and opposition speak the same voice, then it only shows that we have entered a deep abyss which will need years to overcome, unless alternatives arise.
The differences between communal and secular parties are only blurring with the emerging changes and so too the institutions. In the process, Justice is only being laid under the carpet.
T Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher