OPINION

Ayodhya Verdict - A Wasted Opportunity

September 30, 2010
Indian Liberals

The much awaited verdict of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya cases is finally out. And contrary to what the courts intended it to be, and what our politicians are telling us now, this has ended up in a win-lose situation, just as I had predicted!

This was my prediction from the post on this subject "Ayodhya: let's turn the problem into an opportunity" (Sept. 10, 2010)

The court could either say yes or no. If it declares that a temple existed on the site, a new wave of aggression could not be discounted. Such a verdict will certainly give the Hindutva brigade the vitality it desperately needs. The Muslims would equally certainly reject the verdict. If the verdict goes in the opposite direction, the Hindutva brigade would reject, and almost certainly challenge it in the supreme court. So whichever way you look at it, this verdict is only going to take us back to the drawing board. (slightly edited from the original)

I had predicted that a favourable verdict for the Hindutva brigade would give them and their cause the vitality they desperately need. And just as expected, they've already started growling and showing their teeth. Here's what Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief said minutes after the verdict was delivered:

The judgement has paved the way for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The judgement is not a win or loss for anybody. We invite everybody, including Muslims, to help build the temple.

He's already talking of constructing the temple at the site when he very well knows that the high court has suggested a cooling off period of 3 months and the supreme court option is still available to the WAKF board. And although he claims that this is not a win or loss for anybody, he quite teasingly invites the Muslims to help him construct this temple. As if Mr. Bhagwat really thinks that the Muslims would now run into his arms! Advani, on a similar note, claimed that this verdict is a significant step towards building of a grand temple and that it opens up a new chapter for national integration and a new era of inter-community relations. I can bet with my life that he wouldn't have been so open to "national integration" and "inter-community relations" if the verdict had gone against his wishes! After all, only a few days ago, he was talking of the issue going to the supreme court, not of national integration!

Which is exactly what the WAKF board has promised to do. I can also bet on my life that the WAKF board would have been talking of "national integration" and "inter-community relations" had they won the verdict today. Instead, they asserted that they will not surrender the land. The WAKF board lawyer, Zafaryab Jilani said:

The High Court's formula of one-third land is not acceptable to the Waqf Board and it will appeal against it in the apex court

Not surprising at all but what caught my eye was the following from him:

However, much cannot be said at this stage as we are yet to study the judgement in detail. Still, we are of the firm view that no public resentment is required as the matter can be taken to the SC and there is no reason for any loss of hope in favour of the Mosque

What does that mean? Would they resort to public resentment if the SC verdict went against them? Would the RSS and parivar continue on their goody-goody approach of "national integration" if they lose the SC verdict? Would the parivar settle for a temple at Ayodhya if they win the SC verdict? Or would then then press for Kashi and Mathura next?

But I digress. I am thinking at least 50 years ahead of me. For we are back to the drawing board - the Sangh parivar wants to construct the temple. the WAKF won't surrender the land. The case gone back to the court!

Let's face it - Today's verdict doesn't close this chapter. It doesn't leave us in any better position than we were yesterday. It doesn't solve any problems (it might just have opened old wounds!) and I am hoping against hope that it doesn't get dragged on for another 50 years! And what angers me most is that almost everyone is paying a lip-service to "peace", "national integration", "inter-community harmony" and so on when we all very well know that any of it is the last thing on their agendas!

I for one happen to believe that the courts, the litigants, the communities and the country in general had just blew up a great opportunity to put this issue behind us. Guess it just was not to be!

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