Ayodhya verdict to determine Kamandal-Mandal politics

A view of Ayodhya city. (PTI photo)

Nearly 27 years after the disputed structure of Ram Janambhoomi-Babari Masjid was demolished on December 6 1992, a final resolution of the matter seems beckoning with the Supreme Court completing the hearing of the matter on Wednesday.

While legally the matter seems to be getting over, politically it could be yet another beginning of a long-drawn campaign that could see both the BJP and Congress besides regional parties, particularly SP and BSP, engaging in a battle of wits and reworking their strategies to outdo each other as the temple issue has huge political ramifications in the Hindi heartland.

BJP will cite the favourable verdict as the fulfilment of their agenda, albeit through the legal process, within months after the Modi government withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir through the abrogation of Article 370.

With the Mandir verdict, Modi and Co may become a force to reckon with for the Opposition. The Congress party leader, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had in 1986 allowed the opening of locks of the disputed site for the puja. It was during the term of another Congress leader, former prime minister Narasimha Rao, that the disputed structure was demolished.

Now the Congress is cautious in its reactions, saying that it has always backed resolution of the matter through the judiciary.

It was a during BJP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh’s tenure that the disputed structure was demolished and during another saffron Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath’s tenure, that a resolution is in sight. If the apex court decides the other way, it will be a big setback for theBJP.

It may also trigger a chain reaction in Bihar, where disparate socialist forces can mount a challenge to a resurgent BJP.

The Ram Janambhoomi movement started at a time when former prime minister V P Singh had brought Mandal Commission, which gave 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes among Hindus, which had triggered violent agitations by upper caste groups.

It was believed that L K Advani’s Rathyatra in the 90s was also a counter to Mandal politics that was perceived by the Sangh Parivar as something which divided the Hindus.

The quota politics which was countered by the Ram temple pitch was famously described in the political lexicon as Mandal (Social justice versus Kamandal (communalism) politics.

Even now primary challenger to the BJP in Hindi heartland is not Congress but proponents of Mandal politics. The Ayodhya judgement, either way, will once again affect the Mandal-Kamandal politics in Hindi states.

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