On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court opened the way for the construction of a Ram temple on 2.77 hectares of land in Ayodhya, where the Babri mosque stood until December 6, 1992. The ruling marked the closure of an interfaith religion, law and politics. a dispute that has lasted more than a century.
Political disputes on this issue multiplied when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) actively decided to make the construction of the Ram temple a political board in the 1991 general election. Party leader Lal Krishna Advani issued Rath Yatra who demanded the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in 1990 To be sure, BJP has various articulations on this issue. The election manifesto is the biggest proof.
Ram Janmabhoomi (even Ayodhya) did not appear in the 1984 BJP manifesto, the first as a political party. In 1989, the BJP manifesto said the following on this issue: "By not allowing the rebuilding of Ram Janma Mandir in Ayodhya, on the Somnath Mandir line established by the Indian Government in 1948, it (the government) has allowed tensions to rise, and harmony social tense seriously ".
The context for this position was Rajiv Gandhi's government decision to unlock Babri Moqsue in 1985, which was seen by many as an attempt to balance communal equality after his government overturned Shahbano's verdict in the Supreme Court.
In the 1991 manifesto, the BJP's tone became stronger on the Ayodhya issue. The manifest said, "He sought the restoration of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya only by correcting historical mistakes symbolically, so that the long round of misery could be ended, and the National Grand Reconciliation was enacted".
BJP fought in the 1991 election against the background of Lal Krishna Advani taking Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya in 1990, who was interrupted by his arrest in Bihar.
It should be remembered that the encouragement of the BJP temple also came after the announcement of 27% of Other Backward Class (OBC) bookings, as recommended by the Mandal Commission report, by the VP Singh government.
This step has the potential to consolidate all the votes of OBC behind parties that fight for social justice boards.
Kamandal, as the popular temple encouragement is called, is also a maneuver against Mandal politics to consolidate the socially oppressed.
In the 1996 election, which was held after the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, the BJP recalibrated its tone on this issue. "When in power, the BJP Government will facilitate the construction of the extraordinary Shri Ram Mandir in Janmasthan in Ayodhya which will pay homage to Bharat Mata," his 1996 manifesto said.
The 1998 manifest also emphasized the facilitation line.
Strangely, the party went to the polls with the manifesto of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 1999 general election, which did not even mention Ayodhya. This is a tactical compromise to build the alliance needed to form a central government.
The 2004 party manifesto adopted a completely different tone in this matter.
It said: "The BJP remains committed to the establishment that the court's decision in this matter must be accepted by all. However, we believe that dialogue, and a negotiated settlement in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill, are the best way to achieve this goal. The BJP calls on religious and social leaders from the Hindu and Muslim communities to accelerate the dialogue process and bring it to a friendly and initial outcome. "
The demolition of the Babri mosque is a game changer in Indian politics. How does that help BJP? It is instructive to see the performance of the BJP elections, especially vis-à-vis Congress, which has now been replaced as a national political hegemon.
Before the BJP was formed in 1980, ideological parents Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh used to have a political arm called the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) formed in 1951 and joined the Janata Party in 1977. BJS had the most votes of 9.3% and 7 , 4% in the 1967 and 1971 elections, before joining the Janata Party. The BJP vote in 1984 was exactly like that of BJS in 1971, 7.4%.
In 1989, it crossed double digits, but at 11.4%, it was still far lower than Congress's 39.5%. 1989 to 1991 was the period when the BJP saw the biggest jump in proportional distribution of votes. This increased its share 1.8 times to reach 20.1%. Except for 2009, BJP never exceeded 20% of the votes after 1991.
BJP is only the second party after Congress, which has reached 20% plus votes in more than one election. (See Chart 1).
This additional 10% of the vote, which makes BJP the second national player in Indian politics, is a tangible benefit of BJP from the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
However, it would be entirely wrong to assume that the BJP owes its current political dominance solely to the problem of the Ram temple. Between 1991 and 2009, the share of BJP votes ranged around 20%. Only after Narendra Modi took over leadership in 2014 did the BJP exceed the 30% vote threshold and get a majority of its own in Lok Sabha, which increased in 2019.
A thoughtful analysis of the BJP electoral region highlights this. India has been seen through six sub-regions for the purposes of this analysis: North (Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Chandigarh), Hindi Belts (Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan), East (West Bengal and Odisha), Northeast (Assam and seven other northeastern countries), West (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu) and South (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Islands Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep).
It was in the Hindi belt that the BJP received its biggest boost between 1989 and 1991, its share of votes jumping 10 percentage points. This advantage is largely derived from the costs of Congress, which, post-1989, was never able to pass 30% of the vote in the region.
The BJP also surpassed the 30% vote level in the West in 1991, but reached 25% of the votes there in 1989. The only other subregion in which BJP had 30% or more votes was East and Northeast in 2019 (See Chart 2).
These figures capture the election gains brought by the issue of the Ram temple to the BJP. He was able to establish himself as a national player by overtaking Congress in the Hindi belt states. The post-Ayodhya generation of the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in essence, has consolidated the party's national party status as a hegemony throughout India, especially in non-Hindi-speaking regions.
However, the launchpad for dominance is currently built entirely by the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.