It may appease the ‘individual’ Narendra Modi’s personal ideological moorings and goals inculcated in the shakhas of the RSS to preside over the construction of a religious shrine at a time such as now, but for Modi the Prime Minister to be to doing it is at best yet another display of the government’s lack-of-touch with reality.
Currently, the country is being devastated by a raging second wave of covid-19. Death stalks most cities and towns in the country. People are hard-pressed to find medical care for their loved ones infected by the virus. There is much sorrow all around. Families are devastated by the loss of a bread-winner, a father, a son, a daughter a grandparent. Victims are facing untold financial disasters. The health system is unable to cope with the case-load of the pandemic.
Most of these victims are Hindus, who devoutly worship their Gods, and they consistently perform their religious duties according to their perception of their Gods. They do not need a specific temple to anchor their religious moorings and retain their faith in their God. They are already well anchored.
Rather, the temple and everything connected to it has been a tool that the right-wing now ensconced in power in the form of the BJP used to create its political constituency and continues to seek to use it to anchor its Hindu vote bank.
For a while it may have worked: religion has often been the opium of the poor. But the BJP, which came to power on religion, communal hate and a pack of lies about ‘Gujarat Model’ in 2014, and which has 302 MPs, today barely controls 35% of the nation’s territory.
The opiate effect of religion has worn off of those who took to it in 2014 and 2019, the people are now facing the withdrawals. This was also forcefully demonstrated by several assembly election in tyhe last 3 years and most recently, in the W Bengal elections. Despite using religion and communal hate as its primary political tool, the party was humiliatingly shown the door by the voters – a majority of them Hindus. In most states it is in power, it go ther either as a coalition or after buying elected MLAs. Clearly, the law of diminishing returns in using religion as a political vehicle has set in quite some time ago.
The material welfare of the people does not lie in a Temple, a Mosque or a Church. Even the most devout follow the adage ‘God helps those who help themselves’. God did his part by giving us the good earth and everything in it, it is up to us what we make of it. The PM and his government need to ask themselves what have they done with the good earth and the people that they appropriated in the name of God via the Ram temple? The people have no vaccines, no hospitals, jobs are in short supply, prices are escalating on a daily basis, the economy has all but collapsed and social fabric is utterly torn, leaving the people in misery.
It is not the temple construction or religious festivals that the government should be concerned with right now, but the desperate situation of the population. That would be true religion for all religions primarily concern themselves with spiritual as well as material well-being of the people. That would be paying true obeisance to Ram as well.
Of course, the inverse side of it all is also that the government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is simply out of its depths in running a nation, a economy and a people. It would, therefore, only be natural for it to keep wallowing in what it knows best: religious politics. But this serves no national interest. Rather it gives the impression that the government and the nation are heading in two different directions.