Obviously, there are cross-currents and diverse interest groups that seek to hog the limelight by reviving the demand for a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the birthplace of Hindu god Lord Rama.
After more than a quarter-century, fresh efforts are on to raise the pitch for building the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. The issue has assumed significance as the nation goes to polls to elect the 17th Lok Sabha from April next year.
Obviously, there are cross-currents and diverse interest groups that seek to hog the limelight by reviving the demand for a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the birthplace of Hindu god Lord Rama. Coming days will witness intense pressures that will come into play to give a political twist to the issue that is currently before the Supreme Court.
The apex court will decide in January next year the bench that will hear the title suit of the disputed land at Ayodhya as well as the schedule of hearing the matter. As per the current trends, a verdict by the apex court on the issue is unlikely before the elections.
Realizing the ability of the critics of the Narendra Modi government to use Ram Mandir issue to hit at the Bharatiya Janata Party's core constituency, the Rashtriya Swayemsewak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates have stepped in to calibrate the demand on the temple at Ayodhya. RSS is the ideological fount of the BJP and, at times, the arbiter of various political and personal disputes within the broad Sangh Parivaar.
Prime Minister Modi has sought to put the blame on the principal opposition, the Congress, for resorting to dilatory tactics in the apex court to delay resolution of the contentious issue.
RSS sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat has called for a law to ensure construction of the temple at Ayodhya twice in as many months. Other Sangh affiliates have also sought to up the ante and the latest show of strength both by VHP and the Shiv Sena demonstrate the underlying compulsions.
The pressure on BJP and the Narendra Modi government stems from three diverse groups. First is the Shiv Sena, which has been an ideological ally of the BJP for the past three decades and feels left out from the current power-sharing arrangements in New Delhi and Mumbai. Electoral setbacks after the demise of its founder Bal Thackeray has pushed, the once-dominant partner, to the sidelines.
The Maharashtra based outfit sees a more aggressive Hindutva and demand for Ram temple a convenient excuse to embarrass the BJP and win over a section of the BJP hardline voters in an effort to weaken the BJP. Shiv Sena has announced its plans to contest the next general elections and Maharashtra Assembly polls on its own. Such an eventuality will hurt both the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Will the Sena cut its nose to spite the BJP is a question that will be known after the general elections are announced early next year.
Secondly, within the Sangh Parivaar, there are many who have reasons to feel left out from the power-sharing arrangement that was put in place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his trusted lieutenant and BJP president Amit Shah. These groups see Ram Mandir issue a means to hit out at the Narendra Modi government, which left to itself would prefer to wait for a final verdict of the Supreme Court.
To these elements, any reverses to the Modi government would open it vulnerable to pressures and deal-making than a close-knit club that it has emerged since the 2014 general elections. Many of those left out have access to the inner circles of the RSS having been associated with the parent organization for a substantially long period.
Thirdly, the change of guard at Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), long considered as a fiefdom of Dr Praveen Tagodia, has added to the woes of the Sangh Parivaar. A former Modi confidant and now a bitter critic of the Prime Minister Tagodia was ousted from the VHP after a protracted struggle and wrangling. The VHP is pushed into taking an aggressive position as it now seeks to out manoeuvre its one time favourite.
The election results of five State assemblies on December 11 will give another definitive push to Ayodhya issue. It will need a fine balancing act of a political trapeze artist for the Narendra Modi government to meet the compulsions of Hindutva politics.