SANTOSH KUMAR PATHAK
New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) As the Varanasi district court reserved its judgment on the Gyanvapi dispute rejecting the plea questioning maintainability of a petition seeking permission for daily worship of Hindu deities whose idols are located on an outer wall of the Gyanvapi mosque, there were many reactions by political parties in favour and against the court’s verdict.
From Union Minister Giriraj Singh to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, as well as many veteran BJP leaders, hailed the judgment which was clearly evident with reverberating chants of Lord Shiva made by them. This shows that how significant this issue is politically for the BJP.
Although the Gyanvapi dispute is officially not a part of the BJP’s political agenda, however it holds the utmost significance given that Varanasi is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, while it also assumed the title of India’s cultural capital.
The construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor is one of the major achievements of the Modi government and Gyanvapi dispute could become a major political agenda for the BJP in the future.
The construction work of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya is in full swing and it is evident from the statements made against the Varanasi court’s judgment concerning the Gyanvapi dispute that the matter is set for a long-drawn legal battle.
A senior BJP leader told IANS that the development of Kashi and Mathura is part of the political agenda of the Modi government and the party is diligently working towards it but as far as making it a mass movement and political agenda is concerned — Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura — have been part of the agenda of Sangh Parivar affiliate — Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The BJP had decided to openly support the Ram Janmabhoomi movement only in the Palampur session of 1989. However, along with this, the saffron party added that both the Kashi and Mathura land disputes are pending before different courts and all people must respect the judiciary’s decision.
There was apparently no official statement released from the Union government or the BJP’s top leadership over the Varanasi court’s recent judgment but it is clear from the statements given by Central ministers, BJP’s national office bearers, Chief Ministers and Deputy Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states, and BJP Ministers from various states, including party leaders that the dispute may not be spearheaded by the saffron party but it is likely to be raised during various public programmes attended by its leaders.
It is also clear from the statements of BJP leaders in favour of the court verdict and politicians like AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi opposing it tells that politics in the name of religion is being played on the pretext of Gyanvapi dispute.
On one hand, the BJP is again likely to gain big political dividends from raising this issue, but this time the number of political parties opposing the court’s verdict is in absolute minority.
Since the Modi government came to power in 2014, the narrative of the country’s politics has completely shifted. Now it revolves more around majoritarianism and Hindutva so veteran political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav, who were fiercely opposing the Ayodhya movement and the BJP in the name of protecting secularism, such political voices opposing the Gyanvapi dispute has been quite lukewarm this time.
Owaisi is trying to reap political dividends by consolidating Muslim votes by opposing the Varanasi court’s verdict in the Gyanvapi dispute but his party AIMIM’s political base is on a sticky wicket in major states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Whether the Gyanvapi dispute becomes a political issue or not, in both the cases the BJP is certain to reap political gains given the current situation.
SANTOSH KUMAR PATHAK