At it again: Editorial on BJP's tried and tested formulae
Tried and tested formulae are best. Just two years away from the next Lok Sabha elections, Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled India is farther from ‘achchhe din’ than ever before. The prices of essential commodities are pushing them out of the grasp of low-and middle-income groups, wholesale inflation is at its highest in at least nine years, the rupee has fallen to its lowest against the dollar — these, with widespread unemployment, may make people wonder what ‘bure din’ should be. So out has come the formula that worked with the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. An issue that can divide the people, causing conflict and violence by awakening fear and hatred, is the best way to distract attention from the daily struggle to put food on the plate. The Gyanvapi mosque dispute represents this polarising strategy. The saffron brotherhood is out to establish that as the mosque next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was built by Aurangzeb after he demolished a section of the temple, that part of the temple-mosque complex, too, should be an area of worship for the majority community. The court-appointed surveyor — sacked afterwards — discovered a supposed Shivalinga in the water body meant for wuzu before namaz, which the mosque management has said is a dysfunctional fountain. The lines for conflict are being drawn.
The bigger BJP leaders are silent at this first stage. After all, the saffron camp’s Gyanvapi project violates the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which says that the religious character of all places of worship shall remain the same as on August 15, 1947 and no appeal or proceeding on changing any will be allowed, with penalties for contravening the law’s provisions. Ayodhya was to be the only exception. Had not the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief denied that the RSS would be following up disputes over Gyanvapi and the Shahi Idgah mosque in Mathura after the Ayodhya judgment? But other BJP voices have taken up the foot soldiers’ triumphant chorus — the alleged Shivalinga symbolises the ‘truth’ and nothing can stop its worship, and structures including the Qutub Minar will go the same way. Does the fringe — it can no longer be distinguished from the saffron centre? — have the repealing of the law in mind? The Congress has urged the Narendra Modi-ruled government not to break up the country irrevocably. The government just needs to come down on those fanning conflict over the Gyanvapi mosque. Will it?