As Modi laid himself down in the ultimate prostration ‘sashtang pranaam’ at Ram Bhumi Poojan, and Godi media flashed posters of a giant Modi, depicted as a small boy, accompanying Ram to the Parthenon of Ram temple, RSS has accomplished the next strategic step of converting secular India into a Hindutva republic.

We were closely watching Indian media and the hullabaloo about the conquest of Ram Temple projecting Narendra Modi as the Mahapurush destined to take India into the sun. An interesting debate between Jyoti Malhotra of the Print magazine and Swapan Dasgupta about the Ram Mandir highlights the contours of RSS ideology on Hindutva republic. Swapan Dasgupta eloquently remarked that Modi’s speech at Ayodhya is a nudge to India towards the political idea of Ram Raj.

Swapan Desgupta represents the ultra-conservative (read extremist) cabal of undeclared RSS intellectual cadres, who despite graduating from the University of London with a PhD, has maintained a consistent and aggressive ideology of Ram Raj and converting India into a Hindutva republic. Swapan Dasgupta’s book, published by Penguin Random House in 2019, with the title ‘Awakening Bharat Mata: The Political Beliefs of the Indian Right’ is about the rise and beliefs of right-wing politics in India.

During the discussion with Jyoti Malhotra, Desgupta acknowledged that Indian psyche is negatively affected by the defeatist mentality of the people and leaders of India as India was enslaved for a better part of modern history and there is a genuine urge in BJP cadres to overcome this psyche and build pride in being Hindus. According to Desgupta, Ram Mandir is not a brick and mortar issue, it’s much beyond that and is actually a fundamental, political and ideological issue. He interpreted Modi’s speech as an effort to erect the ideal of Ram as the Marayada Purushottam or the all-encompassing brave, but benign ruler. Desgupta also feels that Ram Raj should now come to the forefront in Indian polity and governance. Elaborating further, Swapan Desgupta highlighted four major aspects which make the Ram Temple more than a brick and mortar issue.

One: The movement and agitation for Ram Mandir was guided by a devotional attachment.

Two: In Ram Temple lies a sublimated urge of Hindu society for fulfilment; for a thousand years Hindus lived in servitude, Islamic domination of India, created symbols of servitude which needed to be redressed; so it’s a righting of a historical wrong. There was a permanent sense of defeat, servitude and mental slavery that an independent Hindu mind needs to overcome.

Three: How do we move forward on Ram Raj and manifestation of his rule, it could be an ‘Ugra’ or aggressive Ram. From pursuing the Ram Mandir to aggressive posturing and political and legal battle, which created acrimony, resentment and bitterness, it has followed a consistent trajectory. Remember the quantum of bitterness, which preceded the Ram Mandir movement in the history of India. The movement was focussed on Ayodhya, but it could also shift to Kashi and Mathura.

Four: Babri Masjid in 1528 was an act of aggression and the 1992 demolition was an act of counter aggression to try and reverse an initial crime committed.

Meanwhile, Godi media brought some Sarkari Muslamans on TV to hail the Ram Raj. As reported by the Hindu newspaper, hailing Lord Ram as “Imam-e-Hind” (prelate of India), some Muslim devotees of Lord Ram watched the entire bhoomi pujan ceremony in Ayodhya live on their TV sets as they could not go there due to the coronavirus health protocols. “It is a moment of joy for us. We are kar sevaks and consider Lord Ram as ‘Imam-e-Hind’”, Raja Raees, the president of Sunni Social Forum (an organisation working for the Muslims) told PTI on August 5.

Mr Raees said, “We celebrated the occasion by beating drums and playing harmonium. Shri Ram is our Prophet. There is a feeling of happiness among the Muslims in the country. Members of our organisation watched the event live on TV.”

We raise some basic questions:

Will Ram Raj bring bounties from the heavens, especially when India is mired in economic problems accentuated by COVID? Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamana already warned the people of India to not to criticise the gathering at Ram Temple, “There is no other golden moment like the one when Prime Minister Modi performs the ‘bhoomi pujan’ at Ayodhya, coronavirus is there, but will disappear with Lord Ram’s blessings.” As reported by the Indian Express, more than 62,000 novel coronavirus cases were detected in the country on August 6, a new single day global record, taking the total number of people who have so far been infected to well past 2 million in India. The journey from 1.5 million to 2 million cases has taken just nine days.

Will Ram Raj remove Indian isolation in the region or accentuate it? Today, India has active and non-active disputes and border tensions with China, Pakistan, Nepal and even Bangladesh. With the Rajapaksa brothers consolidating power in recent Sri Lankan elections, India has another headache emerging to her south. India has also lost strategic space in Afghanistan and Iran.

The one-year siege of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and the choice of date of August 5 to conduct Ram Bhumi Poojan says a lot about the coming Ram Raj; is it going to be inclusive or exclusive with an Ugra Ram overseeing the occupied land?

Will it stop at Ram Mandir or be used as a precedent? If Ram Mandir is an act of ‘Counter Aggression’ on history, where does it lead India into? Already Muslim monuments, shrines and icons of civilisations are being targeted to have been erected on some Mandir or Shiva Ling. Senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar had publicly stated that the Taj Mahal was Lord Shiva’s temple called ‘Tejo Mahal’ which was converted into a mausoleum by Shahjahan.

As we look ahead, the counter aggression ideology of RSS and BJP may shift from brick and mortar structures like Babri Masjid to the Muslim community; after all they are considered the children of Ghaznavi, Taimur, Babur, Shahjahan and Tipu Sultan, and are already suffering atrocities and oppression at the hands of the lynch mobs of RSS.

While RSS marches on under the banner of ‘counter aggression’, the international community seems to be looking the other way; unfortunately the champions of democracy, liberal ideology and secularism residing in the western capitals have condoned Indian oppression of Muslims and other minorities due to so-called national interests; it’s time for the international community to wake up and stop the madness of the Hindutva republic.

To conclude, majoritarian fascism is the new normal in India; the civil society, liberal voices, left-wing flag bearers and champions of secularism are mere spectators; in the words of Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “India is descending into majoritarianism, the brute power of the vote; it will no longer have the safety valves that allowed inclusion. There are no political avenues for protest left. Most of the so-called federal parties turned out to be more cowardly than anyone anticipated. Not a single one of us can take any constitutional protections for granted. Indian Parliament is a notice board, not a debating forum”.