Efforts to ensure social harmony and peace between Hindus and Muslims have taken centre stage after the Supreme Court announced its verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case on Saturday.
While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is close to fulfilling its three-decade long electoral promise to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, there have been consistent efforts by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of BJP, and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind to ensure that no law and order problem occurs after the verdict. BJP is in power both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president Arshad Madani met at the RSS headquarters in New Delhi earlier this week for the second time to appeal to people to maintain law and order. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also appealed to people to remain calm in his address to the nation on Saturday.
With the focus of the National Democratic Alliance government under PM Modi and all political parties to maintain peace and unity, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an affiliate of RSS, has announced that the organization would now concentrate on construction of the temple in Ayodhya rather than starting another movement for building temples at Mathura and Varanasi.
“Our immediate focus is on the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement was started with a specific idea which has been achieved. Now the focus will be on temple construction. We urge the Union government and state government of Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps," said Vinod Bansal, national spokesperson of VHP.
Political analysts said that while the construction of a temple in Ayodhya has been one of the core issues for the BJP, it faces the challenge of figuring out a new agenda.
“The long pending issues on its agenda helped BJP to consolidate its supporters. With these milestones now behind, the party needs to think ‘what next’. The party’s new agenda need not be connected to faith or religion. It could also be about development," said Sanjay Kumar, director of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.
Some of the litigants in the case have, however, said they are studying the judgement and have not ruled out the possibility of an appeal.
In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court on Saturday settled the long-festering Ayodhya dispute by allowing Hindus to build a Ram temple on the disputed land while sanctioning Muslims 5 acres to build a mosque in the temple town. The apex court directed that the disputed 2.7-acre land is to be handed over to a trust formed by the Union government. The trust has to be formed in three months and will be tasked with building the temple.
Some of the litigants that want to look at the judgement in detail before deciding on the future course of action are Nirmohi Akhara, one of the oldest litigants, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) which has made it clear that the organization was not satisfied with the verdict.
“The Nirmohi Akhara awaits the central government under PM Modi engaging with us in consultative process to discuss what exactly it has in mind vis a vis ‘appropriate representation’ in the New Trust to be formed by it under directions by SC under Article 142. At the same time, our lawyers will study the judgement in detail and then decide how to proceed, if and as required, legally," said Kartik Chopra, a spokesperson for Nirmohi Akhara.
“If the demands of Nirmohi Akhara are achievable through discussion with the Union government, then that route is also possible," he added.
Similarly, members of the AIMPLB said they were looking at the possibility of filing a review petition before the Supreme Court. “We respect the judgement but we are not satisfied. We will decide further course of action," secretary Zafaryab Jilani said, adding that the Ayodhya verdict has “a lot of contradictions" and the board might consider a review petition.