January 15, 2024
Congress and Ram Mandir: Navigating a Complex History of Fluctuating Stances
- The Congress Party’s involvement in the Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue has been marked by a series of shifts in its stance, reflecting the complexities of balancing the sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims. As the party opts to skip the consecration of the Ram Temple on January 22, it is crucial to delve into the historical context that led to this decision.
Sangh Parivar’s Push:
- In the 1980s, when the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute was entangled in legal proceedings, the RSS and VHP advocated for the construction of the temple based on faith rather than litigation. The BJP, too, initially viewed the matter as beyond the purview of courts. However, over time, coalition dynamics prompted a shift towards a resolution either through court decisions or mutual dialogue.
Unlocking the Temple:
- The turning point came in 1986 when, during Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership, the locks of the Babri Masjid were opened. The Congress, struggling to retain support, was unable to appease both Hindu sentiments and Muslim voters. The move, aimed at addressing the demands of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, led to a narrative subtly propagated by Congress leaders that claimed credit for the temple’s unlocking.
Flip-flops Amidst Rising Pressure:
- As the BJP under L K Advani intensified its campaign for the temple, communal tensions escalated, and allegations of “pseudo-secularism” reverberated. The Congress, under Vir Bahadur Singh, attempted a delicate balancing act, impounding VHP’s Rath Yatra in 1986 while later escorting the same raths to Lucknow in a bid to appease the VHP. The party’s attempts to keep its Hindu upper caste and Muslim bases intact proved challenging amidst the growing tumult.
Losses and Political Turmoil:
- Facing internal crises and defections, the Congress lost governments in Delhi and Lucknow in 1989. Efforts by Prime Minister V P Singh and later P V Narasimha Rao to address the temple issue proved futile. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 did not benefit the Congress, as political polarization in UP shifted towards the BJP and regional parties. The intricate interplay of factors led to a decline in Congress’s influence in Uttar Pradesh.
- The Congress Party’s journey regarding the Ayodhya Ram Mandir reflects the intricate challenges of navigating religious sentiments and political exigencies. As the party decides to abstain from the temple’s consecration, it underscores the enduring complexities that have defined its stance on this pivotal issue over the years.