For internal stability and economic progress India needs harmony among all its communities - religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic. However, during the period when BJP was in the political wilderness and wanted to gain power at the national level, its then president L.K. Advani galvanized his supporters to action and created the Ram janma bhoomi- Babri Masjid problem in Ayodhya. Mobs of people demolished a mosque whose consequence was harmful no doubt. It caused riots at several places and spread communal feelings all over the country. When communities are divided emotionally, no amount of legal remedy can solve the problem. Both Hindus and Muslims coming together to find a suitable solution at Ayodhya was the only sensible thing to do.

By creating the Ram janma bhoomi problem Advani and his followers increased their popularity and came to power. Atal Bihari Vajpayee became India's Prime Minister and Advani the Deputy Prime Minister. With the help from the government, the programs for saffronization of India gained strength. Under the BJP rule, stoking communalism in various garbs became fashionable and establishing a Hindu Raj became the operating philosophy. Hindutva replaced Secularism. All the works that had been done over the years to build communal harmony went out the window. Conflicts between the upper caste and their lower caste neighbors became more pronounced. Religious intolerance became fashionable. India's march toward the past took a pathetic turn.

In its present incarnation the Modi brand of BJP is trying to make India a hub for manufacturing. "Make in India" has become the motto. However, for a slogan to be translated into action it must have the commitment from the people. How can a population pull itself together toward a common goal if it is beset with the push and pull of conflicts within? Now the Modi government finds out that the forces that originally brought his Party into power is no longer helpful to carry on its national ambition which is making India an economic power house. Trying to gain power at any cost, even by rousing communal feelings, is one thing. But pulling all segments of the population together toward a specific direction is another.

For twenty five years, ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the issue of the temple versus Masjid has become a nagging problem for India. It has ruined the reputation of the country and its people. For the outside world the Ram Janma bhoomi - Babri Masjid issue has become a blot on India's image. In this context, the recent proposal by the Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waq Board makes sense. The Board suggests that the Ram Temple be built in the disputed land in Ayodhya and a mosque be built in Lucknow. It looks like the proposal has support from spiritual leaders of different temples and a broad section of the Muslim community. The Supreme Court of India has to accept the agreement, if it is the agreement, between representatives of Hindus and Muslims.

As soon as this agreement became public some of the Sunni Muslims have voiced their rejection. Among the 150 million Muslims in India no one expects everyone to agree on everything. However, a vast majority of Muslims as well as their Hindu counterparts would like to see this years old problem solved. Finally, that possibility is at hand and no one should try to blow it up.

Religion has always become an emotional issue. Muslims world over have natural sympathy for their Muslim brethren in India. If India's Muslim population carries a feeling of victimhood, in spite of the notables like Zakir Hussain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Abdul Kalam, it would reflect in the attitude of other Muslim countries toward India. As usual, Pakistan would take full advantage of the situation which for the country is neither useful nor necessary.

(The above article is reprinted from INDIA THIS WEEK of December 1, 2017)

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