Suhas Palshikar: Bhoomi pujan of the new republic // Pratap Bhanu Mehta: Political colonisation of Hinduism

If the BJP is guilty of dismantling the republic, all other parties are silent approvers. Like in the case of the most ardent opponent of majoritarianism, the epitaph for India’s slowly dying republic could also be “Hey Ram”. .. The 5th of August, 2019 and 2020, constitutes a moment when, rather than shrill rhetoric, a sober realism is necessary to grasp the meaning of the moment. Going by the self-deceptive statements of some Congress leaders, one suspects that even before the construction of the Ram temple begins, the BJP might have achieved its grand project.

As the bhoomi pujan ceremony unfolds at Ayodhya tomorrow, the prime minister may as well announce the commencement of a new “republic”. During the past one year, India has entered a new political arena. It is time to begin identifying the pillars on which this new India stands and ask if the new arrangements qualify to be described as a republic at all. ... 

Electoral outcomes occasionally introduce ruptures. That 2014 would be such a rupture was almost foretold. Throughout the past six years, the BJP government went on reorganising the polity. During its first term, the government was busy firming its grip on the state apparatus. The task of preparing the ground for the new republic was mostly conducted through orchestrated vigilantism and issues of cow and conversion. Through the face-offs with students, the regime had indicated two things: Its penchant for abrasive use of state power and its ability to posit a binary of nationalism and democracy where the latter was shown as the machination of the anti-national….

Ayodhya’s Ram temple is first real colonisation of Hinduism by political power

They will say Ram is a national symbol, a symbol of Hindu pride. But did Ram consent to being converted to something as banal and nasty as the symbol of an ethnic nationalism? Ayodhya's Ram temple is a monument to exclusion, a brute majoritarianism subordinating others. Ram. You can be properly addressed just with that name. Any proclamation announcing your triumph, like Jai Shree Ram, diminishes you. The necessity of proclaiming your victory implies you could have been defeated. I must also make a confession. You were the radiant and intimate presence in my life: The ground of our Being. You were the Mind and the Senses. You were the Virtues.

You were Compassion and Divination. Your name was uttered in the anguish of suffering and the ecstasy of liberation. You were the householder, the son, the brother, the disciple, the friend. You were the king, but also the renouncer. You were Dharma. You were occasionally cruel and unjust. But your anguish seems to recognise your own cruelty. You were divine. But your equivocations were human. You were the last Refuge I woke to, and slept to, the reassurance Tulsi gave us: “Raghuvar tumko meri laaj, sada sada main sharan tehari, tum ho garib nawaz (I seek protection in you, protector of destitute souls)”.

Today, those who waged war in your name will consecrate your temple at Ayodhya. They are describing this as the ultimate act of devotion to you, the ultimate obeisance to your sovereignty. They are, they say, reclaiming hallowed ground, desecrated by barbarous invaders. They are describing this as a cathartic overcoming of Hindu humiliation. They are describing this as a new renaissance for Ram Rajya. You will now be the symbol of a community united in strength, full of a new found pride. It will be said, secretly, this is restoring wholeness to a broken culture….

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