After Losing 3 States, Will BJP Bank on Ram Mandir Issue Again?
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Congress’ victory in the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections have, perhaps, been the biggest setback to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. Some believe that the results are a mandate against the BJP's Hindutva politics while others believe that it was the anger of the Ram temple supporters that impacted BJP’s performance.
There is some truth to the narratives and both of them work against the BJP. The November farmer protests in New Delhi were anti-government and the recent agitation by Ram temple supporters was also anti-government. It seems the BJP is at a crossroads, where the party has to decide if it wants to go ahead with the politics of Hindutva and Ram temple, or take a step back.
The proof of this complication is that even though crowds chant slogans for Ram Mandir and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat speaks about introducing a law for the temple, senior BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley and Shah have said that they will wait for the Supreme Court verdict.
So, what’s next? In 6 months before the Lok Sabha elections, it is unlikely that issues such as agrarian crisis, rural distress, unemployment and weak economic growth will be resolved. BJP might just have to fall back on Lord Ram. Don't forget that it was temple politics that allowed a party with just 2 Lok Sabha seats to paint almost the entire country in saffron.
The three states where the BJP has lost have been at the playground of Ram temple politics. In these 'Hindi-belt' states, the Muslim population is very low and the number of voters affected by the issue of Ram temple are very high.
If the government considers these defeats a result of the anger of Ram devotees, it could choose to take a remedial step. The Centre might even consider an ordinance to build the temple.
The matter, though, rests with the Supreme Court even though members of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal aren't ready to wait any longer. BJP's disgruntled ally Shiv Sena has also taunted the party on the Ram temple issue and has been urging BJP supporters to rebel.
In this political climate and after these election losses, the BJP might decide to bank on the Ram temple issue. To secure its vote bank, all the BJP has to do is create a narrative that the Ram temple will be built soon. It doesn’t have to follow it up.
(The page was originally published on Quint Hindi.)