The November 9, 2019 Supreme Court verdict finally paved the way for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya verdict was the fruition of BJP’s three- decade long struggle which propelled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the fringes of national politics to becoming a dominant political force across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his letter to the people of India mentioned the Ram Mandir judgement as hitting the jackpot during the first year of his government’s second term.
The pledge to build the Ram Janmabhoomi found its way in all BJP’s manifestos since 1996, following the demolition of Babri Masjid in the regime of P.V. Narasimha Rao in December 1992.
Starting from 1991 when the slogan ‘Mandir wahin banayenge’ came into the limelight, BJP first mentioned the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi in its ‘Manifesto’ just before the general elections of 1996, which is often referred to by the party as ‘Sankalp Patra’.
Here is the timeline of the promises done by the BJP for the Ram Janmabhoomi, let’s have a look:
1996 Lok Sabha Polls
In its manifesto, the BJP “reiterated its commitment to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on coming to its power as this dream moves millions of people in our land; the concept of Ram lies at the core of their consciousness”.
1998 Lok Sabha Polls
“The BJP is committed to facilitate the construction of a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya where a makeshift temple already exists. Shri Ram lies at the core of Indian consciousness. The BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means to facilitate the construction of Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya”.
2004, 2009 Lok Sabha Polls
BJP again reaffirmed its commitment to the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
2014 Lok Sabha Polls
The 2014 Lok Sabha polls was the turning point for the party when the BJP came into power in 2014 and proposed the Ram Mandir project under the “Culture and Heritage” as the part of the party’s 2014 manifesto but still was not much focused on that.
“BJP reiterates its stand to explore all possibilities within the framework of the constitution to facilitate the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya”.
2019 Lok Sabha Polls
“We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all the possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya”.
However, the party managed to complete its promise. BJP President J.P. Nadda stated the settling of Ayodhya issue as a significant achievement of Modi 2.0 in its first year.
Ayodhya Case: Complete Timeline
A look at the timeline of Ram Mandir events:
1526-1528: A mosque, named Babri Masjid, was built on the disputed land by the Mughals.
1850s: The year of the beginning of communal dispute between Muslims and Hindu.
1946: Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha, a wing of Hindu Mahasabha, started agitation over the possession of the disputed land.
1949: An idol of Ram was found inside the mosque which further led to the communal clash among the masses after which a civil suit was filed by both the parties.
Following the event, the state government declared the entire area as a ‘dispute’ and locked the gates until further orders.
1950: Two suits filed in the Faizabad civil court by the Hindu side which resulted in acclaiming the right to worship the idol of Ram.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara filed the third suit, claiming to be the stakeholder of the site.
1961: The Sunni Waqf Board of U.P. moved to the court for the removal of the idol of Ram from the site.
1986: District Court passed the statement to open the lock for the Hindus to worship.
1992: Babri Masjid was demolished by the kar- sevaks, following which a riot took place between Hindus and Muslims.
1993: The centre passed an act “Acquisition of Certain Areas at Ayodhya Act” for the acquisition of the land.
1994: In a landmark Ismail Faruqui Case, SC stated that a mosque is not an integral part of Islam.
2010: With the 2:1majority, Allahabad High Court ruled the judgement and came to the conclusion of three-way division of the land among Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
2011: SC ordered HC to put a stay on the order.
2016: In the regime of BJP at the centre, Union Minister Subramanian Swamy filed a petition in the apex court seeking the construction of Ram Mandir at the site.
2017: SC constituted a three- judge bench to hear the pleas, challenging the 1994 verdict.
2019: SC ruled the judgement based on the reports of ASI and handed the whole land for the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi along with the allotment of 5 acre land for the construction of mosque at a prominent place. The court ordered the centre to give some representation to Nirmohi Akhara.
Archaeological Survey of India’s Report: What ASI found during excavation?
The Supreme Court’s decision was heavily dependent on ASI’s report. The report released by the ASI in 2003 played a key role. The report stated that the remains of Hindu deity structures, pillars were found at the disputed site.
The landmark judgement noted that the ASI report indicated “that pre-existing underlying structures have large dimensions, evident from the fact that there were 85 pillar bases compromised in 17 rows each of five pillar bases”.
These observations came after ASI excavated the disputed Ayodhya site in 2003 on the directions of Allahabad High Court. However, this was the fifth survey. The first was done in 1862-63 by A.E. Cunningham followed by another in 1889-91 by Fuhrer. Professor A.K. Narain conducted the third in 1969-70 and finally the fourth one was conducted by Professor B.B. Lal in 1975-76.
However, the findings of the report were contradictory in itself. A.E. Cunningham accepted the association of Ayodhya with the traditions of Rama and asserted the fact that present- day Ayodhya was the Ayodhya of the Ramayana years. He also concluded that the cities of Vishakha, Saketa and Ayodhya were the same. In contrast, Narain observed that the excavated sites indicated human habitation as old as the 5th century B.C. He strongly claimed the presence of Buddhist stupas, not a temple.
A.E. Cunningham in 1862-63 surveyed Ayodhya and clearly identified the location of the Ram Janamasthan Temple in the heart of the city rather than where the Babri Masjid stood.
Base of Supreme Court Verdict
The landmark judgement given by the Supreme Court in the much-awaited Ayodhya land dispute case has ruled in favour of Ram Mandir. The Supreme Court in an order said, “The dispute is over immovable property. The court does not decide title on the basis of faith or belief but on the basis of evidence. The law provides us with parameters as clear but as profound as ownership and possession.
In deciding the title to the disputed property, the court applies settled principles of evidence to adjudicate upon which party has established a claim to the immovable property”.
The 5-judge constitutional bench led by the Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while reading out its judgement said that the Sunni Central Waqf Board failed to establish its point in Ayodhya disputed land case. The bench noticed that the structure below the remains of the Babri Masjid was “not an Islamic structure”, based on the reports of the Archaeological Survey of India. But the ASI has also not mentioned that the temple was demolished to build the mosque.
The court also stated that the faith of the Hindus that Lord Rama was born at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood also could not be disputed. However, the Court also stated that the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 was a violation of law.
In its judgement the court ordered the central and state government to uphold the title rights of Ram Lalla Virajman over the 2.77-acre disputed property and ordered the central government to set up a trust within 3 months to oversee the construction of Ram Temple. And to allot an alternative 5-acre land to the Muslims for the mosque at a prominent place.
Nirmohi Akhara, third party in the case had always argued over the possession of the disputed land, saying they are the custodians of the land. However, the court rejected the plea and ordered the centre to give some representation to Nirmohi Akhara Dal in the trust, dealing with the construction of the temple.
In support of the verdict Justice O.W. Holmes had famously remarked that the Supreme Court was “a court of law and not a court of justice”.
Who gets the credit ? Even though the BJP have rallying behind the cause, highlighting it in their manifestos over the years, the Ram Mandir verdict shouldn’t be viewed as BJP’s achievement. The decision was finalised by hon. Supreme Court, that too after a long time. Once the matter was in court there wasn’t much to be done by any party. The credit should go to the great courts of this country, ASI and historians involved, and various lawyers, applicants, and the devotees at large.
Does Ram Mandir confirm U.P. elections in 2022 for BJP?
In 2017, Modi was an overwhelming brand in Uttar Pradesh. The assembly elections were fought on the name of Modi as they didn’t have the CM face. But this time Yogi Adityanath cannot be missed. Amit Shah’s calculated caste equations were useful but only with Modi remaining the core. The voters voted on the name of Modi with many even unaware of their local BJP’s candidate name.
For 2022, The Modi factor cannot be the key. This time the ‘Ram Factor’ plays a huge role. It is interesting to note that BJP has found itself a newer way to reach the core heart of the community. Modi and its government magnificently used the Ram Mandir playcard to become a key symbol in its quest to grab the 2022 U.P. elections against the others.
However, 2022 can be an interesting election because this time the five-year rule of Yogi Adityanath will come under scrutiny along with what he has done for the state to tackle the pandemic.
It was no surprise for the masses as the Indian electorate has shown in recent years that it treats state and central elections differently. The BJP’s defeat in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assembly elections followed by the recent defeat in West Bengal being a case in point.
2022 state election in U.P. will be a prestige issue for Modi, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath after recently losing the West Bengal elections after repeatedly claiming that BJP was winning.
– Radha Agrawal (adteamcontributor)