History will be made on 5th August, when PM Narendra Modi, along with UP CM Yogi Adityanath will attend the Bhumipujan of Shri Ram Temple at Ramjanma Bhumi, Ayodhya. Lal Krishna Advani is on the list of special invitees and will attend the Bhumi Pujan digitally. How much I wish circumstances should have been normal and he should have been there physically. Even then, there can not be a better acknowledgement of the contribution made by Advaniji towards the development of Hindu politics and making BJP a force it is today. To me, and millions of average Hindus living in this country, this is as important a moment as 15th August 1947, when India got its independence from unjust and exploiting British rule.
I am sure every Hindu (minus liberals) will celebrate the moment. But especially for those who are nearing forty and beyond, this Bhumi Pujan by Head of the state sounds like a personal victory. You see, today Courts can hog the credit for deciding the Ram Mandir in favour of Hindus. But it was the same judiciary which delayed the judgment till it became obvious that the majority has started to see these delays with suspicion. The pieces of evidence which were submitted to the Supreme Court in 2019, were presented many times before. But it was Judiciary’s pusillanimous which delayed the judgement by at least 70 years. Today if courts hands were forced, it’s only because there’s no Mosque standing. Actually Courts need to be hauled for delaying the Ram Mandir.
VHP/RSS were working for Ram Mandir for many years anyway, but it lost patience with Congress when Rajiv overturned the Shahbano judgement in 1985. For the next three to four years, RSS it went into public awareness overdrive on how Babri was built and why Ram Mandir was necessary. It gained further momentum when BJP led by Advaniji in June 1989 at Palampur convention, adopted the Ram Temple demand as a resolution. Famously known was Palampur Resolution.
Perhaps, Rajiv Gandhi allowing VHP to perform Shilanyas at Ramjanma Bhumi was a result of this political move by BJP. It was a display of naked opportunism on part of Congress to placate Hindus and stop the flight of votes. But Hindus saw through this and Congress lost 1989 General Election. By that time, RSS/VHP had upped the ante further and conducted Ram Shila Pujan in lakhs of localities, mainly across West, Central and North India.
But the real push came when Lal Krishna Advani, decided to take the situation by the scruff of the neck and started Rath Yatra on 25th September from Somnath, Gujarat. The Ram Rath Yatra was supposed to go through the cities and towns where Ram Shila-Pujan had evoked good response. Rath Yatra turned out to be a game-changer. Almost every city Advaniji took his Chariot (an SUV turned into a Rath) to, he was welcomed like a war hero and greeted with Jai Shri Ram and Mandir Wahi Banayenge by boisterous Ram Bhakts. Within a few weeks, from a rally, Rath Yatra turned into a movement. And Lal Krishna Advani into a national leader.
The scheduled stop of the Rath Yatra for Nagpur was 5th of October. I still remember, how the city was decorated. Every nook and corner was painted saffron with marigold flowers and strings of BJP/VHP flags. And towering over all this were massive cut-outs of Prabhu Ram. The Rath was supposed to reach the airport area at around 4 in the evening and end at Poddarshwer Ram Mandir in east Nagpur at around 7.30. But such was the enthusiasm and so huge was the crowd that the time table lost its meaning quickly. People just won’t allow the Yatra to proceed without either touching the Rath or at least showering flowers on Advaniji and Prabhu Ram Pratima. When I, along with many volunteers joined the Yatra it was already well past 6. And as we started moving with the Rath through the city, we were showered with flowers and many who could not touch the Chariot touched us. But as we moved towards the older part of the city, the behaviour of the Ram Bhakts turned frantic. I had not experienced anything closer to this in my life. Many from the crowd, mostly old men and women, touched our feet! I was embarrassed beyond words!
For an urban, educated young man, this was a humbling experience. Till then I had only heard faith can move mountains. That day I saw with my own eyes what being Hindu meant to people! And how much liberating Prabhu Ram’s birthplace was important to them. Finally, at 11 PM, when the Yatra reached Poddarshwer Ram Mandir and we were happily returning home, I was convinced. Convinced that sooner than later Mandir will be built at the very place, where Hindus believed Prabhu Ram was born.
Next day the Rath Yatra proceeded towards Ayodhya via Madhya Pradesh. Eventually, Advaniji was arrested on 23rd October at Samastipur by Bihar Government headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav. Notwithstanding which, lakhs of Kar Sevaks marched on towards Ramjanma Bhumi. Only to be stopped and fired at by Mulayam Singh Government. Which resulted in one of the bloodiest anti-Hindu riots, resulting in thousands of Kar Sevaks deaths. And though Seculars and Socialites were able to stop the demolition of the Mosque in 1990, they could not stop the inevitable. Within 2 years of this, another popular movement emerged and the Mosque was torn down.
Thirty years on, as we stand literally and metaphorically at the Dwar (Door) of the Ram Mandir, which will lead us to Ram Rajya, it’s important that credit should be given where due. BJP Government of the day, led by Modi-Shah deserve heartfelt thank you and lot of credit for making it impossible for courts to evade judgement any more. But for me, Shri Lal Krishna Advani remains the leader who stole the thunder from Congress by riding that Chariot of Fire. Had he not dared to break out of the ordinary and think beyond, we would not have seen the Ram Mandir being built at Ramjanma Bhumi. We also would not have seen BJP winning consecutive elections (2014 and 2019) and turning into the political hegemon it’s today. Not to forget lakhs of Kar Sevaks, who mind you, not once but twice (1990 and 1992) sacrificed their lives, livelihoods and careers to bring down one of the principal symbols of 1000 years of tyrannical foreign rule.
शत शत नमन to memories of those Kar-Servaks who lost their lives in Ramjanma Bhumi Movement!
Jai Shri Ram !!!