Temple ideas

Tempered by power, BJP walks away from 1989 Palampur resolution on temple rows

Along with the disputes between Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Gyanvapi Mosque and between Krishna Janmabhoomi and Shahi Idgah Masjid, the BJP’s Palampur resolution has also made a comeback in political discourse. The ruling party seems to have moved away from its position on the temple-mosque disputes, as mentioned in the political resolution adopted at its national executive meeting held on June 9-11, 1989, in the hill station of the Himachal Pradesh.

With this resolution, the BJP – described by its veteran leader LK Advani as “the chosen instrument of the divine” to end the country’s problems – decided to participate in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which until then had been led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. (VHP). The Palampur Declaration is considered the strongest form of religiosity among BJP policy documents and with it Hindutva was officially added to the party doctrine. The party also rejected court orders that did not support its claims on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site, saying, “The nature of this controversy is such that it simply cannot be settled by a court.

The BJP National Executive also denounced the “ruthless indifference” of the “Congress Party, in particular, and other political parties in general” to “the feelings of the overwhelming majority in this country – the Hindus”. He added. “A court can decide questions of title, trespass, possession, etc. But he cannot decide if Babar actually invaded Ayodhya, destroyed a temple and built a mosque in its place. Even when a court pronounces on such facts, it cannot suggest remedies to undo the vandalism of history.

Explaining why it believes the courts cannot resolve disputes related to temples and mosques, the party document states: “As early as 1886, a British judge, Colonel FEA Chamier, with a civil remedy relating to the site, observed in a helpless vein: “It is very regrettable that a Masjid has been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as it happened 356 years ago, it is too late to remedy the grievance …” (Dated 18 March 1886 Civil Appeal No. 27 of 1885, District Court, Faizabad). In this context, it should not be forgotten that the current turmoil itself stems from two court decisions, one from 1951 and the second from 1986. On March 3, 1951, in the case of Gopal Singh Visharad against Zahur Ahmad and others, the Civil Judge of Faizabad observed, inter alia: “…at least from 1936, the Muslims neither used the site as a mosque nor offered prayers there, and that the Hindus performed their Pooja etc. . on the disputed site. Then, on February 1, 1986, District Judge Faizabad referred to this 1951 order and ordered that as “for 35 years Hindus have (had) unlimited right to worship” at the place, the locks were placed on two doors in 1951 on public order grounds to be removed. (Civil Appeal No. 6/1986).

The Palampur resolution helped the VHP escalate its Ram Temple movement, and the unrest, which grew with the support of the BJP, forced then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to authorize the ceremony. shilanyas on November 9, 1989. The BJP also embarked on a massive campaign. for the construction of the Temple of Ram, which was carried out at the start of the work following a favorable verdict by the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019.

For current BJP leaders as well, the Palampur resolution was a milestone. In his book, The Rise of the BJP: The Making of the World’s Largest Political Party, which he co-authored with economist Ila Patnaik, Union Minister Bhupender Yadav wrote: “The Palampur session in 1989 was the turning point in the BJP’s demand for the Ram Mandir. This laid the foundation for an agitation program to carry the BJP’s message from the cities to the remote villages of India.

As a saffron party leader put it, the new BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not want to embark on yet another campaign for the temples, but only relies on the judiciary to give a green signal to correct the “historical errors” and to restore Hindus to their most sacred places of worship.

While critics of the ruling party may call this a “change of position” as courts expect the courts to take a favorable approach to its issues, BJP leaders say the “context” has changed: From being an opposition party fighting against Congress dominance, the BJP has become the dominant force in Indian politics. As an opposition party, the BJP could demand that the ruling government settle disputes and express its disapproval of a court verdict or government decisions by citing public opinion, some party officials said. They pointed out that as the ruling party, the BJP is now called upon to resolve sensitive disputes, and the government must act in a special way as it has various obligations and its actions are scrutinized internally and externally. outside the country. According to them, the government must act fairly and by constitutional means, even if it advances the agenda of the saffron party.

The Palampur resolution was drafted as the BJP found itself at a crucial juncture – Mandal’s policies that shook up Congress dominance had strained ties between the BJP and the National Front (of socialist parties and some regional liberal parties ), who had come together entirely on the agenda of anti-Congressism. Their basis was non-congressional ideological unity.

But growing unease among upper-caste Hindus encouraged the BJP leadership at the time to abandon its moderate line and embrace ways to shore up Hindu votes. The leadership had to implement politico-religious activities such as Ram Rath Yatra and Ayodhya kar seva to take the party to greater electoral heights.

The party diluted its hardline stance on Hindutva after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. The BJP, with Advani at its head, attempted to re-embrace hardline Hindutva after the BJP-led NDA lost power in the Center in 2004. At the party conclave in Ranchi in November, Advani tried unsuccessfully to bring the party back to the Hindutva line, but the nation’s mood had changed by then. This was reflected in the even stronger comeback of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2009.