Ayodhya is getting ready to face the impact of the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmaboomi title suit by next month. The verdict will, hopefully, put a lid to the dispute between the two communities on the right of ownership. A violent mob of karsevaks had pulled down the Babri masjid adjacent to the Ram temple in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992, which has affected the communal fabric of the country. The Hindu side -represented by seven parties over the disputed site have argued in the apex court that there was a temple dedicated to the birthplace of Lord Ram before Babri Masjid was erected during the medieval times. The judgment is likely to be delivered before November 17, by which time the present chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will be retiring.

The BJP leaders are upbeat hoping for a favourable judgment and the party is happy that their ‘Mandir wohi banayenge’ slogan could at last become a reality after waiting for decades. Local leaders claim that over 65% of the stone craving work for the proposed temple has been completed and a lot of karsevaks have volunteered to work for the temple. If the verdict goes in favour, the prime minister could lay the foundation stone on December 6 according to the BJP M.P. Sakshi Maharaj. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also said that he is hopeful of a favorable verdict. He has already readied the state administration to face a post verdict scenario. The Faizabad district has been renamed as Ayodhya, which is being developed as a tourist attraction with widened roads, ghats spruced up and heritage temples refurbished.

The Ayodhya verdict would have an impact on legal, political and religious areas. The Apex Court order might put a lid on the legal side but its impact on the political and religious sides are equally significant. It is likely that the two sides might accept the judgment. Muslim religious scholars and leaders have also said that both sides of the dispute should accept the verdict, whatever it may be. It will be a big gain for the BJP, as the party’s political and electoral fortunes in the past three decades owe their rise. Looking back, the BJP began its campaign for the Ram temple since the nineties. The razing of the Babri masjid in 1992 was a turning point in the history of the BJP and its Hindutva politics. In fact Prime Minister Modi had a role during Advani’s Ram rathyatra, which began from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in 1990. The yatra did not culminate in Ayodhya as planned as Advani was arrested.

If the Babri Masjid demolition has not only changed the political narrative of the country but also it has helped the BJP to establish itself in the national politics. Post-Babri Masjid demolition, the BJP has acquired a national identity and national stature. The party, which was known as a Bania – Brahmin party and had a strong presence only in the Hindi belt, has expanded as a pan national party now replacing the Congress.

The Ayodhya agenda has been a recurring theme to which the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates, most importantly the Bharatiya Janata Party, have returned to again and again. The BJP has been consistently talking about the Ram temple and had included it in its manifesto since 1996 polls. However, BJP leader L.K. Advani after the demolition, called it — “the agitation is not just constructing a temple but to propagate Hindutva’s foundational idea — cultural nationalism.“

Other political parties including the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been treading on the issue very cautiously. Seeing the phenomenal rise of the BJP, the congress has been trying to adapt a soft Hindutva politics in recent times with the party leaders like Rahul Gandhi visiting temples. The SP, BSP, RJD and other parties relevant in the nineties have lost their sheen now.

The BJP’s future agenda depends on how it plays it Hindutva card. At present, the party would primarily like to consolidate its base all over the country. It has to expand in the northeast and the south. The BJP is targeting to expand in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Moreover, the economic agenda needs priority as it is slipping beyond control. Creation of jobs and boosting the economy needs immediate attention. It is easier said than done when the global economy is facing a recession.

The next agenda is likely to be the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. BJP chief Amit Shah and the Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar have gone public on reclaiming the POK after the revocation of Article 370. But there is enough time for this until before the next elections. Of course, one week is said to be long time in politics and five years is a very long time and there could be other issues, which may come up.

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