The RSS chief has struck a conciliatory note by questioning the need to ‘look for a Shivling in every mosque’, that would hopefully defuse the tension sparked by the polarising claims and counter-claims which is showing signs of turning into street mobilisation, in a distressing re-run of the Babri Masjid episode. Mohan Bhagwat’s call for an amicable settlement between Hindus and Muslims on the Gyanvapi dispute, or acceptance of the court verdict, came with an assurance that the RSS was not in favour of launching any other movement on such issues, Ayodhya having been an exception. Taking that as the final word or a marker for an end to any temple reclamation in future would be difficult, seeing the momentum generated by the right-wing groups and the pattern being followed.
Cynicism and distrust would accompany even the most unlikely scenario of all Sangh Parivar constituents resolving to not dig into the fractured and complex layers of history anymore. That said, Bhagwat has infused a whiff of calmness and pragmatism in the surcharged atmosphere with his message that it made no sense to escalate fights centred on incidents linked to the history of a place of worship, and start a dispute every day. ‘There is history which we cannot change. We didn’t write that history, neither the Hindus nor the Muslims of the present. It happened in the past’ — though coming quite late in the day, the words do lend sanity to the noisy debate that threatens to escalate into a communal frenzy.
The obsession with the project to reverse historical ‘wrongs’ is an endless pursuit that only leads to committing new ones. The speech needs to be viewed as a direct appeal to tone down the rhetoric. If the RSS belief system holds any meaning for the BJP, it should take the lead and ask its rank and file to step back. Disputes related to matters of faith will keep emerging, but it takes a dominant force to fan the fire or snuff it out.
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