The building of the Mandir on the ruins of the Babri Masjid, ravaged by thuggish Hindu mobs decades ago, comes just ahead of national elections and is a dark portent of what may come.
Dark days are ahead in India as Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of a country whose Constitution (for now) describes it as a secular nation, prepares to inaugurate the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on Monday.
The ceremony is designed to foster two things; Modi’s own cult of personality, which has grown to risible levels in recent years, and Hindu Fascism, whose violent politics has defined and forever changed India since the BJP came to power in 2014.
Thirty-two years after a Hindu mob, spurred on by the BJP and Far-Right Hindu leaders like LK Advani, destroyed the Babri Masjid, a temple dedicated to Ram will be lavishly built atop its ruins. The attack in 1992 spurred subsequent waves of anti-Muslim violence across the country, resulting in the deaths of around 2000.
It also formally marked the entrance of Hindu Fascism into mainstream contemporary Indian politics, culminating a trajectory that began during the Jan Sangh movement of the 1970s.
The main argument that Hindu Fascists had put forward was that the masjid had been built atop the ruins of a Hindu temple dedicated to Ram. The fact that there is no historical evidence to back up such an assertion means as little to the present day supporters of Hindutva as it did back then.
Much has changed since then. The same media organisations who reported on and condemned the violence of the past are tripping over themselves to show their obsequious piety to Modi and the BJP in the present. Instead of critical coverage of the event, there is a furious cavalcade of promotional 24/7 coverage that makes even the frenzied drivel on Fox News seem erudite and lucid by comparison.
The judiciary controversially gave the go-ahead to build the temple in 2019. The Supreme Court’s judgement was seen as not only a vindication of the thuggish violence of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement but a deeply distressing sign that the judiciary, rather than acting as a check to the violence promoted by the BJP, would instead simply meekly acquiesce to it.
It is perhaps no wonder Modi extolls the virtue of yoga far and wide, given his preference for servile bootlickers over impartial institutions. Flexibility, literally and metaphorically, is the key to chamchagiri after all.
Tomorrow, 7,000 fools desperate to demonstrate their servility to the current power in India will fly to Ayodhya to take part in a ceremony that actively celebrates the further degradation of the country and the abandonment of the Constitutional principles upon which it was founded.
Modi has inverted the ceremonial formulae for Monday’s event; this time around, instead of bringing priests to inaugurate a new Parliament building, he has decided to personally consecrate the new temple, grandiosely declaring to his followers that “The Lord has made me an instrument to represent all the people of India during the consecration.”
What his followers are very aware of is that Modi is purposely NOT representing all the people of India. The foundation of the BJP’s politics rests in the ethnonationalist ideology of the Hindu Fascist organisation it sprung from; the same violent hatred that spurred the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
The end goal is an ethnonationalist state, born out of the idea that India should only be populated by those who are Hindu. The 200 million+ Muslim minority population of the country is already well aware of the deleterious impact that this ideology, now openly vaunted by all echelons of Hindu society, will have on them.
Indeed, Modi cemented his claim to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate thanks to his tacit involvement in the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogroms, which left thousands dead and countless more violated.
Ahead of an election year, where Modi seeks to win a third term, this lavish celebration of all that is brutal and ugly in modern Indian politics is more than simply grotesque; it is utterly terrifying.
The baying supporters of Far-Right Hindu politics are right when they say a new day has come. It is the type of day lionising the kind of hatred that spurs a Hindu mob to gang-rape a woman and slaughter her family; it is the type of day lauding the mainstreaming of Hindutva politics that resulted in that same mob being released and garlanded by members of the ruling party of India.
It is the type of day gloating that every democratic mechanism has either been destroyed, corrupted, or simply chosen to be supine in the face of egregious destruction and vile communal rhetoric and actions.
The destruction of the Babri Masjid 32 years ago is now remembered as the moment Hindu Fascist politics crossed into the mainstream. If Modi wins comes May, one suspects the building of the Ram Mandir atop its ruins will be seen as the end of modern India.