Modi's 'Bhoomipujan' For Ram Mandir Puts Question Mark Over India's Secularism, Is India Headed To Become A Hindu Rashtra?
Pramod Chunchuwar | India Tomorrow
AYODHYA, AUGUST 5—Prime Minister Narendra Modi acting as a host for ‘bhoomipujan’ ceremony for Ram Temple here on Wednesday has put a question mark over India as a secular country.
Those who attended the ‘bhoomipujan’with Modi included UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, State governor Anandiben Patel and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
The big question after ‘bhoomipujan’ by the PM is whether the country will now move towards becoming a Hindu Rashtra? Will this lead India on the path of majoritarianism?
Though Modi, Yogi Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat tried to allay fears in the minds of minorities, particularly Muslims, their words can hardly give confidence to non-Hindus as they are known for such lip-services.
Till now, generally the persons holding constitutional posts used to avoid hosting any religious programmes keeping in mid the secular nature of India’s Constitution. In 1951, when then President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad decided to be the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony of the Somnath Temple, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru objected to this reminding him of India’s secularism.
The inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya by Prime Minister sent a strong signal that the political ‘Hindutva-isation’ of India is almost complete. The question is being asked that whether the country will now head to become a Hindu Rashtra in near future. The success of RSS’ Hindutva agenda to build a Ram Temple at the place where the Babri Mosque once stood, started with Rajiv Gandhi’s unlocking of the Babri Masjid in 1986, L.K. Advani’s Rath Yatra in 1990 and the demolition of the Babri Masjid two years later, and ended with the sweeping electoral successes of Narendra Modi in 2014 and 2019, 12 years after the Gujarat riots.
Can Modi do ‘bhoomipujan’ of the Ram Temple as the PM of India?
Dr Faizan Mustafa, Vice-Chancellor of the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, while talking with the Huffington Post said that the Constitution does not tell us where the Prime Minister should go and not go. The Constitution does not say that the Prime Minister cannot go to a religious event. It is not there in the text of the Constitution.
“There is something called legality, constitutionality and propriety. If you are a secular state, then you are supposed to be a religion-neutral state. Since the Prime Minister signifies the state, the overt public participation in any religious event is not the ideal thing to do. But we don’t live in an ideal world. I recall that when (then President) Rajendra Prasad went to Somnath Temple (its inauguration in Gujarat in 1951 at the invitation of Union Minister K.M. Munshi), (Prime Minister Jawaharlal) Nehru publicly criticised it. Prime Minister Modi has gone to the UAE mosque. He has gone to a number of churches. And every year, Prime Ministers, even PM Modi, do send a ‘chadar’ to Ajmer Sharif (Dargah). Unlike other leaders like L.K. Advani and Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, who are founders of the temple movement, one has to appreciate that the Prime Minister did not go to Ayodhya even once in the last six years. You will recall that Rajiv Gandhi-the Congress Party is supposed to be a secular party-in 1989, kickstarted his Lok Sabha election campaign from Ayodhya which was a very clear signal to the Hindu majority. Rahul Gandhi went to all the temples while campaigning for the Gujarat election,” Dr. Mustafa explained.
Modi reminds Muslims about Indonesia, Cambodia
Sensing his presence for the function as a host will create doubts in the minds of Muslims as the land where this programme was being held was originally of Babri Mosque, Prime Minister Modi tried to convince Muslims to treat Lord Ram as their own by citing examples of Indonesia and Cambodia.
“Lord Ram is worshipped in various countries. Indonesia, a country with highest Muslim population in the world hold Ram in high respect and many types of Ramayan are popular there. Even Cambodia (which has 93 per cent Buddhists population) too greatly honour Ram. Iran and China too have traces of Ramayan,” Modi stated in an attempt to address Muslim diaspora as also Buddhists as several Buddhist leaders have claimed the site of Ram Temple as that of a Buddhist religious building. He also compared the Ram Mandir movement with Freedom movement. “As 15th August is very important for Indian independence as it was culmination of freedom movement fought by generations, August 5 is also culmination of movement fought over centuries which witnessed sacrifice of many people,” he stated.
He also invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Ram Rajya and said that this temple would pave the way for the “Ram Rajya” dreamt by Gandhi.
He also said that the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will be a "modern symbol" of culture and nationalist feelings. He stressed on the word “modern”.
"Ram Mandir will become the modern symbol of our traditions. It'll become a symbol of our devotion, our national sentiment. This temple will also symbolise the power of collective resolution of crores of people. It will keep inspiring future generations," PM Modi said.
Speaking of how the construction of Ram temple will boost the economy of Ayodhya, PM Modi claimed: "After the construction of the grand Ram Temple, not only will the grandeur of Ayodhya increase but the entire economy of the region will also change. New opportunities will be created in every field,” he claimed.
Speaking at the event, Yogi Adityanath said that the Ramrajya is the state where no one will be discriminated on the basis of caste, language and region. “We are presenting India to the world which do not discriminate on the basis of caste, language and region as witnessed during the last six years (2014 when Modi came to power),” Adityanath said.
Modi Played The Role Of Host
Playing himself as a host for the event, PM Modi completed all religious rituals. He put his head on the stones selected for worship during the ceremony.
On his arrival at Ayodhya, Modi first visited Hanumangarhi temple and the makeshift temple of “Ram Lalla” where he performed prostration in the same way he did when he first entered Parliament in 2014.
The PM also planted a "Parijat" sapling in the temple complex before proceeding for the "Bhumipujan" ceremony.
Shankaracharyas Skip the Event
In Hindu religion, there are four Shankaracharyas-the highest religious priests. But none of them attended this function. It was claimed that they skipped the event due to their age and corona pandemic. The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamkoti sent a plaque describing the function held at Ayodhya. It was shown during the ‘bhoomipujan’. Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Sarswati took objection to the date of ‘bhoomipujan’ citing the time chosen is not auspicious and correct as per Hindu calendar and religious literature.
Larsen and Toubro
The name of Larsen and Tubro was specially mentioned to thank them to locate the place where the “Ram Lalla” was kept before moving him to makeshift temple.
Though it was expected that Modi will also do ground breaking to kickstart the construction of temple, it did not happen. According to sources, the map and construction plan of the temple has not yet been approved by the Ayodhya Development Authority.