THE RETURN TO AYODHYA
The building of a Ram temple on the disputed site of the Babri Masjid, torn down by karsevaks in 1992, will be a crucial part of the narrative of next year’s general election. This is clear from the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to postpone hearings to the title suit till January. A bench headed by Ranjan Gogoi, the Chief Justice of India, took barely five minutes last week to turn down a request from the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, to expedite the hearings into the long-festering case.
As many as 11 petitions will be heard challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict, which trifurcated the site, assigning equal parts to the Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara and UP Sunni Central Waqf board. Listing the matter for the first week of January, when a fresh bench will have to be constituted to schedule proceedings, CJI Gogoi offered a terse reminder that the court has its “own priorities. Whether the matter will be heard in January, February or March, the appropriate bench will decide”. He had made these priorities clear on the day he took oath as Chief Justice, refusing to expedite a case out of turn without it being, for instance, a matter of life and death. There are good reasons for such a stand—with nearly 55,000 cases pending before the apex court, it would take more than two years to clear the backlog even if the court stopped hearing new petitions.
But for the proponents of Hindutva, the Ayodhya dispute is akin to life and death. Both the RSS and BJP leaders were quick to voice their dismay. “Every five years,” former finance minister P. Chidambaram said, “the
THE RULING Hindu seers at the ‘Dharmadesh’ meet organised in New Delhi, Nov. 3