Ayodhya door ast

Published: September 20, 2010

The writer is an Indian author and columnist [email protected]

L K Advani is by far the shrewdest politician India has produced since Mahatma Gandhi. When he talks about pseudo-secularism he should be looking at the mirror, for no one is as pseudo about it as he, his seal of secularism to Jinnah being precious irony. He has pretty much on his own created the worst possible post-Partition partition in India. And all he had to do was ‘dream’, his word, about a temple.

But can he be called destructive when the temple has not been built after the demolition of the Babri Masjid? That is the point: it was not about constructing a mandir but creating a mindset that would think the temple stood for national honour. Most societies look on the past — including colonisation — as an unfortunate part of history. They do not want to dig graves and exhume bodies and then embalm the skeletons.

Pushing the idea of Papa Babar, Advani completely destabilised the middle-class. We question the snide commercial lobbies for using this vast segment with buying power and selling them dreams of being fair, lovely, living on EMIs to look like they are walking the ramp of luxury. Does anyone wonder about how this same middle-class was lured into believing that those they lived with for decades were children of some Mughal emperor? These people have puja rooms in a little corner of their homes, visit the local temple, go on pilgrimages, but never did they hallucinate about such a fractured fantasy.

Now, having an opinion on the Ayodhya issue has become a psychological need.

Advani’s avuncular demeanour made mythology leap out of television screens.

People who touched the feet of characters enacting the roles of gods got to see a reachable light of their ‘pride’ and bask in its reflected glory.

Those who thought heritage was frayed silk saris and yellowing photographs in steel trunks were being educated about history via archaeology.

They are looking forward to September 24, the day of the court verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute. Who does that patch of soil belong to? This is all that will be announced. The court is not taking a call on any other matter regarding the demolition or the riots. Then, why is there such a buildup?

Who is to gain? Advani and his dream machine. It includes the media – the ones who are for the Hindutva parties and those against it. The former are easy to figure out; the latter are devious. They will empathise with Muslims on unrelated issues, screech into mikes from the ‘site’ and give a running commentary. They will recreate for this middle-class a default vision and give them a version to play messiah. If you look carefully, the guys who went in hordes carrying engraved bricks and climbed the dome with hammers were the poor. Did any leader go right up there? No. Watching these scenes again gives the audience an upwardly mobile high similar to asking minions to run errands.

I was shocked to read actor Ranbir Kapoor state “It’s a big day for me but I don’t wish to celebrate on a day when such a big decision is going to be announced.” This is the cheapest trick possible to sell a film scheduled to release that day. He wants to give out ‘positive vibes’.

This is the other fallout: the elite have sneaked into the delusional middle-class cause and reduced it further to simplistic jargon. Social discourse is not their natural habitat. The slum hog millionaires fake the faking middle-class cocoon. Ayodhya is far from their reality, but as dreams go the chrysalises are quick to become mortician chroniclers.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2010.

Reader Comments (9)

  • proud indian
    Sep 21, 2010 - 10:39AM

    Ma’am Advani is a respected leader and the Mahatma got us freedom. The public will have opinion on such big issues because India is a democracy. Don’t blame middle class only because you are elite. Recommend

  • APK
    Sep 21, 2010 - 4:27PM

    Please do not compare that rabble-rouser Advani to Mahatma Gandhi.Recommend

  • jai
    Sep 21, 2010 - 5:34PM

    we want the temple. you got a problem with it move to Pakistan. The Babri mosque was a triumphalist mosque built by jihadis over a hindu temple just like jihadis want to build a triumphalist mosque on ground zero after destroying the twin towers.

    Would muslims allow someone to build over Mecca? you want tolerance, well it is not a one way street.Recommend

  • Zafar Tariq
    Sep 21, 2010 - 6:04PM

    Good analysis about the middle class in India. Glad that Ms Versey is not going all out and taking the verdict seriously unlike most commentaries. Recommend

  • Neeraj, India
    Sep 21, 2010 - 8:00PM

    Farzana, Indian middle classes are not as fickle minded as you are trying to project them to be. No matter how rabble-rousing speeches Advani delivers, no matter how much Uma Bharti frets and fumes against minorities, Indian public, particularly the Hindus, are not going to be swayed by their rhetoric. Minorities have nothing to fear from likes of Advanis, but they face real danger from the disgusting social leeches like lallus, mullus, shah…ddins, Arun…tis etc. When Kashmiri bigots pelt stones and chant Azadi ,Azadi, that too just because they are a religious majority in a particular region, they indeed pose a great thereat to our secularism, because no matter how fair minded a middle class Hindu is, it makes him angry.
    Look at what is happening in the US. It is not the foolish pastor’s antics that could turn a single American into an ant-muslim fanatic, but it is an equally foolish Imam who succeeded in creating a negative image of muslims, in the minds of millions of Americans.
    Babri masque should never have been demolished. A small gesture from both the communities would have solved the problem and muslim community was ready to it. But, the real culprits were the so called ‘secularists’ whose intransigence gave strength and enormous power to the saffrons. Do you remember? These custodians of secularism went as far as to demand the birth certificate of Lord Rama! I don’t want to see that happen again.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 21, 2010 - 10:09PM

    You are reducing the situation of Muslims in India to one single act. What about all the Muslims who have done well in India, who can never have achieved what they did if they were in Pakistan? Azim Premji was the richest man in India for a long time, Muslims are over-represented in popular mediums like Cinema and Cricket(I say this proudly).

    If you want to get Pakistani readers appreciate your column. Well done. You have achieved what you set out for. Recommend

  • vikas ranjan
    Sep 22, 2010 - 5:52PM

    Who does that patch of soil belong to? This is all that will be announced.

    Well this whole business of announcing the ownership of the ‘patch of soil’ is fishy. Is the court going to say that Babar brought this ‘patch of soil’ with him from Ferghana to build his Babari Masjid?
    More interestingly,if you visit the Qutub Minar complex which also has a major mosque, you will find an ASI plaque that says that 23 Hindu and Jain temples were demolished and the material was used in the construction of the Qutub complex. Since the ownership of this ‘debris’ is known , is the court going to restore it to the ‘rightful owners’.
    This issue should have been settled outside the court by religious,political,civil leaders facilitated by the judiciary.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Sep 22, 2010 - 10:09PM

    Farzana –
    Are you suggesting on Ajodhya issue that:

    a) Indian Middle class Hindu hallucinate about a fractured fantasy that their Muslim counterparts are children of some Mughal emperor?

    b) That Mr Advani and the leaders like him provoked the poor Hindu and these leader have not gone right up there during demolition of the structure?

    c) That the Middle class Hindu is disillusioned as to Ram Janmabhumi – Babri Masjid dispute. The elite are suggesting simplistic jargons to influence their mindset?

    d) That the poor people living in slums are faking this middle class who are not on forefront and living in their cocoons?

    e) That this middle class who is living in cocoons will come quickly on forefront as soon as Ajodhya verdict is announced?

    Farzana, please confirm, what I have learned from your blog as above, is correct?Recommend

  • Oct 1, 2010 - 9:54PM

    Actually what amazes me is that so many of you understood this article. It sounded incoherent at best. And where the author essentially lost me was equating Advani with Mahatma Gandhi – the latter could galvanise the masses, not out of political expediency but through some well-thought out means – such as Swadeshi, Satyagraha, Ahimsa and civil disobedience. For Gandhi there was no compromise on the means and that is why at the time of Independence, he was in Kolkatta trying to bring about communal harmony – not in Delhi enjoying the pomp and splendour. And that is why Gandhi has prevailed — because means are as important as the end. Unlike Advani who I hold singly responsible for the Babri Masjid demolition and the riots thereafter.

    The rest of your article – I am sorry – did not make sense. What is wrong with Ranbir Kapoor giving out positive vibes – why should positive vibes be considered hypocritical? Perhaps you need to revisit your anti-Hindu sentiments and how it is colouring your article. And as for Ayodhya – I have visited the place and the Babri Masjid is literally in the heart of the city just next to other temples such as a Kaikeyi Kopgraha (the palace for an angry Kaikeyi). This is the story of North India – for instance Kashi temple adjoins a mosque and so does the temple of Mathura – these places are as sacred to Hindus as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims. There was a general competition among Muslim rulers in India to acquire the title of Ghazi – the vanquisher of Kafirs. While I am not justifying the demolition of the mosque, I am giving you an idea of the ground reality in most parts of North India and the anger felt by some Hindus. I suppose you would be fuming after the ayodhya ruling – but I believe this is the best compromise considering that Hindus were worshipping at the site for many hundreds of years even after the mosque was built. As a columnist – you could do your bit to build bridges rather than feed the festering persecution complex some Muslims wallow in worldwide.Recommend

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