What Message Does Ram Temple Construction Send to Secular India?

How much is the Ram temple construction going to change the political paradigm of India in the coming years?

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The foundation has been officially laid for the construction of a Ram temple, 28 years after the Babri Masjid was demolished.

And all eyes were on Ayodhya, on 5 August, as the Ram Mandir trust conducted the bhoomi poojan or the foundation-laying ceremony, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and around 170 other spiritual and political leaders.

With this, the BJP's promise towards its Hindu voter base of a Ram temple in Ayodhya – the mythical birth place of Ram – is a step closer to fulfillment. At the ceremony, PM Modi likened the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to India's independence struggle, saying that the temple construction is the symbol of centuries of sacrifices.

“During the independence struggle many generations of Indians sacrificed everything they had. During those days of colonialism, there was not a moment without resistance and sacrifices for freedom. 15 August is a symbol of those millions of sacrifices and the will to be independent. Similarly, many generations have struggled for centuries for the Ram Mandir. Today is the symbol of that sacrifice and resolve.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Given the ongoing pandemic and the news of Home Minister Amit Shah testing COVID-positive, the guest list was trimmed. Even so, the pandemic did not seem to dampen the mood.

But historically, the pitch for a Ram temple has precariously balanced itself on Hindu nationalism — a pitch that we've seen grown louder in the recent years. How much is the Ram temple construction going to change the political paradigm of India in the coming years? What symbolic message does this grand socio-political project send to secular India?

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