HINDUTVA organisations lit the fuse for a Ram temple with the Dasehra address by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. There has been no let-up since. Their pitch reached a crescendo on Sunday, days before the last Winter Session of the current Lok Sabha was to begin, with a massive rally in the national Capital. The combined show of force by the RSS and VHP sought a law for a ‘Ram mandir’. Despite a two-decade back-story of aggression and mob violence, the leaders at the gathering surprisingly pulled no punches. The cajolery in the speeches indicates a strategy of persuasion and advice or ‘expressing sentiments’, as RSS leader Suresh Joshi put it.
The impatience to push for a law for constructing a Ram temple even while the Supreme Court is hearing the case betrays the Hindutva brigade’s lack of confidence in the BJP and PM Narendra Modi’s capability to replicate the performance of 2019 on the basis of its governance report card. The Hindutva family, as well as many in the BJP, may have been obliged to raise the pitch after the realisation that the temple card is necessary to keep the core flock interested as the government’s intentions and schemes did not pan out as anticipated on the ground.
The Hindutva Parivar is walking on an edge. Hard-line elements in its fold are already targeting the government. The calibrated raising of temperature of such an emotive issue can easily get out of hand, forcing the Centre to take intemperate measures to control the narrative — after all, most of the Union Cabinet is also committed to a Ram temple. But the corollary will be a junking of the development card that helped PM Modi effortlessly cross the finishing line in 2014. More than being of help, the pressure for a law on the temple could become a distraction as the Government erases the wrinkles from its governance agenda in the run-up to the general election, especially when it is aware that a law will run into legal barriers.
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