The overarching liberal position, transcending geo-political barriers, has always been propounded as that of one which possesses the aptitude and the chutzpah to take into account the innumerable nuances which are, or might be, associated with a particular case before arriving at a conclusion with regards to the same, irrespective of what the conclusion may look lie.
The conservative or the ‘right-wing position’ on the other hand, has perennially been type-casted and labelled as that of one which overzealously assumes the (un)justified end result of any given contestation at the outset, before even considering the available material at hand due to the rigid mould of ideological compulsions it functions within. However, when it comes to the Ram Janmbhoomi, people who find classification under those with a liberal bent of mind have chosen to effectively take nuance and sacrifice it at the altar of perceived equality. Now, will it be considered illiberal if someone were to try and oust them? Irrespective, I will try.
On the 9th of November 2019, a five-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India, led by former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, unanimously laid down the law of the land and, once and for all, buried the millennia old Mandir-Masjid dispute, and with it, the aspirations of zealots from cross the aisle who were intent on politically banking off of the issue for all of eternity. The country and especially the Uttar Pradesh (U.P) Sunni Waqf Board, the key body which spearheaded the deliberations for the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid in the Supreme Court, welcomed the decision with overwhelming grace and maturity.
In fact, the U.P Sunni Waqf Board’s acceptance of the verdict was so wholesome in nature, that they even decided against the filing of a review petition in the apex body. The ever-vexatious television debates as well, surprisingly, seemed uncharacteristically subdued with the on-air proponents of the two respective faiths, which were pitted against each other in the Supreme Court, seen to be mutually facilitating towards each other. It seemed like everything was unfolding out to be hunky-dory, with politicians, religious factions, and most importantly, the people of the nation welcoming the verdict with open arms.
However, ever since the date of the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya has been announced, i.e. on the 5th of August, certain self-supposed and self-proclaimed secular liberal elements from society have emerged from the shadows who, by the looks of it, were harbouring a deep-seated antipathy towards the Supreme Court’s verdict on the erstwhile issue. These elements have taken to live television, as well as to the courts, to display their discontent and clamour noisily for the halting of the ceremony.
They have done this by raising rhetorical questions. It now becomes imperative for the society-at-large to put these questions through a litmus test to see if they have any bearing in regards to merit or validity, or are they just aimed at trying to desperately flog a dead horse in hopes of resuscitating it.
Saket Gokhale, an RTI activist who is also considered to be a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, approached the Allahabad High Court in an attempt to secure a stay on the Bhoomi Pujan proceedings which are scheduled to occur on the 5th of August in Ayodhya citing a potential violation of lockdown prescriptions. The High Court was quick in notifying the public that they did not share Gokhale’s concern in the least bit, as they discarded his PIL by labelling it as one which was premised upon ‘assumptions.’
The CPI-M then rose up and wrote to the Prime Minster Office’s (PMO) demanding that the ceremony not be telecasted by the state’s public broadcaster, Doordarshan, to the plethora of audiences situated across the vast expanses of the country who are waiting eagerly in anticipation to see it, as it would be a gross violation of India’s secular ethics and ideals.
However, every year on the 25th of December, Doordarshan live broadcasts the midnight mass and the Pope’s message straight from the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. So, if the latter religious broadcast can pass muster on the anvils of secularism and be allowed to function without inhibition, then why is the society tolerating the sabotaging of the former’s? Has the definition of secularism changed from being tolerant of all faiths to being tolerant to the intolerance of another faith or worldview?
Assaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), has also come into the main fray and raised questions alluding to whether the P.M’s visit to the Temple site on the day of the ceremony will be justified when viewing through a secular prism or not.
The logic used by him in raising this particular question was that of how it can be considered as severely immoral for a public representative to overtly associate with the functionings of a particular religion in the open. So, why was it acceptable when P.M Modi went to the Saifee Nagar Bohra Masjid in Indore? Why was it acceptable when P.M Modi again, sent a ‘chadar’ to Ajmer Sharif? Also, why is it that no one batted an eyelid when former P.M Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Akshar Dham Temple? Moreover, Owaisi himself has inaugurated innumerable numbers of Mosque’s in the past, pictures of which are easily accessible on the internet. The very name of his own party in fact, is also in explicit association with the beliefs of a particular religious community.
Furthermore, in the past, Owaisi, who never fails to add epithets like that of a ‘constitutional patriot’ before his name, has also openly incited violence against Kamlesh Tiwari due to him indulging in blasphemy in a free country, which then resulted in the latter’s lynching. Assaduddin Owaisi’s blood-brother and fellow party member, Akbaruddin Owaisi, is even more notoriously infamous for making provocative and extremely divisive statements, some which have even been deemed to have the potential to birth another 1947. Therefore, how can it be feasible for anyone to accept lessons on secularism from these ‘liberals’ and ‘paragons of secularism?’
Maharashtra C.M Uddhav Thackeray, who is already facing tremendous heat due to being put under allegations of presiding over a shoddy investigation into the Sushant Singh Rajput case, has also jumped in uninvited on the non-issue and suggested that the ceremony on the 5th of August be carried out through ‘video conferencing.’ Now, ignorant and motivated statements from the likes of certain Rahul Gandhi confidantes, the CPI-M, and AIMIM leaders are expected, however, it is amusing and astounding at the same time to see the son of Balasaheb Thackeray trying to attach an asterisk around the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony.
It is precisely so because sacred soil from prominent temples from across the country and water from almost all religiously significant water bodies in India is going to be used as a part of the foundation on top of which the Ram Temple will be built during the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony, which is something video conferencing cannot facilitate even in an atheist’s wildest of dreams. So, how is it that Uddhav Thackeray, a self-professed devout Hindu, is unaware of this? How does he not know that Hindu rituals are mandated to be performed in person for them to be considered as authentic and valid?
Furthermore, some fractions from society have also questioned as to whether these rituals can even be categorised as something justifiable or not. I will make this statement bluntly. One does not get to flabbergast the validity of Hindu rituals for the same reason that one also, by the same yardstick, does not get to question the ‘science’ behind the practice of immersing a newborn into ‘holy water’ from another religion, or the humanistic rationale behind the indiscriminate slaughtering of unassuming goats during the festivities of a different religion. The ability to practice one’s religion and faith is protected and ensured by Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India.
Therefore, no community can be expected to be obliged to cout out to the whims and fancies of modernity and its arbitrary notions about what constitutes progress or secularism, both not being even remotely synonymous. Moreover, subjecting one particular religion to the ire of our subjective brunt is in fact what liberalism swore to fight against during its nascent stages all over the world, however, it has now unfortunately become a flag bearing proponent of the very same philosophy which is set out to initially counter in this country.
In addition, if it is the belief of people from certain sections of society that the present dispensation is reaping political dividends off of investing in ideas like that of the Ram Temple or even the Indian Army for example, then they should understand that these things cannot be viewed through an exclusivist prism, because they appeal to people from all sections and parts of the country irrespective of identity considerations.
Therefore, the correct way of countering such a modus operandi, if there even exists one, can never be that of being at loggerheads against the army or the site of pilgrimage of a religion indigenous to this soil but, is should be that of being able and willing to show a section of the public that the concept of only one particular political party having their best interests at heart is bogus, which nobody from the left has even remotely been able to do.
Lastly, if the liberal intelligentsia is still unwilling to come to terms with the naked reality of these statements made from top to bottom in this article, then they need to reevaluate and reorient themselves because they are animus possessed, and nothing of political, societal, religious or legal import can be invoked or enunciated which will make even an iota of a difference in their outlook towards any issue. If the liberal establishment’s sanctimonious approach towards presenting themselves and handling matters of public importance is not rightfully attended to in the near future, then they might as well start preparing early for 2029.