This author believes that culture is a stronger binding force than religion and it is under this percept some of the following arguments are being made.
On 18th October, Ayodhya was lit with more than a lac diyas (I am intentionally not quoting the number of diyas because that is irrelevant and I do not wish to digress to redundant figures).
And it did not take long for certain section of intelligentsia and the media to find an angle that serves their purpose in every single debate. Led by the opposition, there was a tirade against the U.P government. A day later, photos of people collecting oil from the diyas to cook food were shared. Sadly that did not work! It was melodrama cloaked in pragmatism. In this age, where information is clicks away and the right is calling the bluff that used to work earlier, it had to fall flat on its face.
It is a good thing that such huge numbers of earthen lamps were lit… I hope the Chief Minister also invited Muslims from all across the nation to these celebrations,” senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid had said.
Amid all this kerfuffle that eventually turned out to be a futile attempt, the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in his own trademark terse style, tore into his opponents. This is what he said, “This is my personal faith and how can opposition interfere in this?” He further asserted that the he visited Ayodhya to check for preparedness in terms of security, convenience and cleanliness for those who throng the city in large numbers during the festive season.
No sane mind would want to argue against the logical arguments that Yogi Adityanath made. Unless, of course, propaganda has blinded someone to that extent that he/she does not realize the ramifications of banging the head against a wall. In that case, you are free to make arguments like why Ayodhya and why at this time?
Time now to initiate the argument I mentioned about earlier: a secular state must endeavor to provide equal opportunities to all religions, while also ensuring that the state machinery does not indulge in appeasement – something which previous governments in Uttar Pradesh failed miserably at.
Now for Ram – and all other agencies that pop in our thoughts with the mere mention of the word – He’s not just a religious figure but a cultural representation of the ideals a man is supposed to abide to. Following him for many has never been a religious practice but a wider acceptance of the cultural thread that binds the nation. It is due to this reason, Ram and the celebration of his existence in our folklore and belief system for centuries bothers certain groups and individuals.
It’s the same cultural plurality that time and again sees Ramleela have Muslim actors. There is Ram all around us. The epitome of perfection, his name was there on the lips of Gandhi when he breathed his last. To question someone born in India for his devotion of Ram and doubt his intentions reflects what kind crucible of hatred certain ideologies in this country have become.
The false narrative that the opposition tries to dig up from nowhere has done enough harm to the pluralism of the country, leading to a moral decline that needs to be addressed soon.
Yogi Adityanath is free to practice his religion in whatever ways he wants to. If people don’t go around asking Sonia Gandhi about her religious choices, they have no right to raise fingers on a man who for as long as the memory serves has been a spiritual figure in the religious realms of the country. Yogi Adityanath, being the head of a government does not snatch away his religious rights from him. Besides being a political leader, he is also the head of the Gorakhpur Math. Naïve arguments and malice, which has only grown post his anointment as the Chief Minister, that the opposition bears towards him is not going to serve the purpose as yet. It’s a common practice to target men in saffron robes, it’s convenient. But by questioning the intentions of a ‘saint’, whose life is an open book, without a concrete argument, the opposition has once again brought its desperation in public light.
The days of privilege that the previous governments in U.P enjoyed at the cost of cultural degradation of the birth state of Ram are over. Here’s a man who knows his rights – religious, political and individual. And he is in no mood to spare those who come in between him and his practices that have made him what he is today. Also, by not wasting time and calling out the hypocrisy of his critics, Yogi Adityanath has sent a stern message that his politics might stem from Modi’s brand but unlike the senior fellow he does not need a public gathering to give his piece of mind to the haters.