As Sanskrit shlokas reverberated at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat through the ‘bhoomi pujan’ for the Ram Mandir along with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The event has made August 5 one of the most important dates in Indian political history. Last year on the same date, BJP had fulfilled another of its core ideological agenda, that of revocation of Article 370 with the stated purpose of integrating Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. The two events signify complete transformation of national politics.
The date also saw the RSS – BJP’s ideological parent that spearheaded the Ram Mandir movement over last three decades, and kept the pressure on while the case was in court and even when BJP was out of power – take a backseat to Prime Minister Modi as he took centerstage at the ‘bhoomi pujan’. The RSS sarsanghchalak later termed the event as “a moment of great joy” that marked “making of new India”.
The Prime Minister -- wearing a golden-hued kurta and saffron angavastram, unusually sporting longer silver hair and beard, sitting on the red-painted floor -- became the defining image of the day. The scale of the ceremony at Ram Janmabhoomi ensured that the first anniversary of revocation of Article 370 is relegated to the background. Several social media users saw a deliberate conspiracy by the government in choosing August 5 to commence the construction of the Ram mandir. “The state won’t allow us to think of Kashmir today because it’s taking over our minds with ‘bhoomi pujan’ instead. The state is malicious,” said one Instagram user.
“Can these images of saffron splendour in Ayodhya erase the bleak ones of Jammu and Kashmir? One year after revocation of Article 370, the state – sorry it’s a Union Territory now – still doesn’t have proper internet and mobile telephony. Some of the mainstream political leaders like Mehbooba Mufti are still in detention. Today, on August 5, when the country should have been in solidarity with the people of J&K, it is awaiting Ram Rajya,” says a political commentator not wanting to be identified.
However, for the BJP, August 5 has become a date for double celebration. “We are not trying to bury the revocation of Article 370 under Ram Mandir celebrations. Both the events are landmark events for us that will rewrite the history of the country. The date marks the victory of the BJP ideology,” says a party general secretary.
According to a BJP office bearer, Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, responsible for construction of the Ram Mandir, had given the option of two auspicious dates for the ‘bhoomi pujan’ – August 3 and August 5. “It was decided to go with August 5 as the date will then get identified with the BJP ideology. The astrologers say that August 5 is a day when Lord Brahma will have a strong influence on earth. Anything that will commence this day will be a grand success,” explains the party general secretary.