Book Review: Non-fiction/ Ayodhya: The Dark Night by Krishna Jha& Dhirendra K Jha, Harper Collins, 192p; Rs499 (Hardback)
Rationalizing the myth can’t be apt in the case, if it meant for tempering the truths. In India, the dark fantasy of communalism has been forming and deforming under the same contradictions-that stock of confused discourses have made the collective consciousness either weird or ineffective.
Since1947, Indian polity has been grappling with many maladies, but the reassertion of ‘religion as identity’ remains something, which still waiting its existential justification. Under heavy influence of this nefarious syndrome, we can see in South Asia-Pakistan, on the brink of disaster and Afghanistan, as a nation of opium and war.
India’s polity shaped through a democratic Constitution and strong institutional edifices have delivered over the years, though under the strain of sporadic but extreme counter-currents. India’s independence came following with the civilisational history’s worst human displacements and riot-after that, the father of nation was assassinated in 1948, and from here began the politics of Hindu Mahabha and RSS.
That stream of religious-political interface made the otherwise flawed Congress rule in the country, more acceptable and Hinduism, walking with a painful deadlock. Krishna Jha& Dhirendra K Jha’s Ayodhya: The Dark Night is a path-finding study on the means and practicing nuances of right wing politics in India. This book has sensitizing capacity and builds better perspective around a grave plot that has done immense harm to the nation.
Based on irrefutable facts, authors take the matter forward with recalling the fateful night of 22 December1949 in Ayodhya. That night, Abhiram Das-an obscure Sadhu (previously a wanderer from Darbhanga district of Bihar) and his followers successfully installed an idol of Rama in Babri Masjid. They faced resistance, but that overcome by these motley group.
Probably, that night no one of them were knowing the consequences of their act, as they worked blindly for rightist political organisations, politicians with similar taste in Congress and the ICS officer and then DM of Faizabad, , K.K.Nair. This man and his wife from Kerala played a long political inning from UP, besides amassing disproportionate property.
Point worth of noticing is, Ayodhya was not a place of limelight before that, then why it made the centrepoint of Hindu politics? The answer would be hard to get but somewhere, the reaction or action with no sense had formed under the impression that revivalist method of such dangerous scale can give the passage for religious rule in the country.
And that would be legitimized, as balancing course correction of wayward Islamic rule. Things’ didn’t travel the same way and that because, somewhere India is a functional democracy and it has its own compulsions and choices. The mileage was toned down; nevertheless India’s politics entered a different phase, which was not coherent and accommodative.
Nehru, was a firm believer in political processes, though only mildly in struggle after India got independence. So he dealt with Patel in own party and with opposition in well thought out procedures-he secured a temporary balance during his years in power. Subsequently things moved in calm until mid 1980’s. Rajiv Gandhi allowed opening of Babri Masjid and politics ignited after that.
In 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished and it became a full time front of politics between Congress-BJP. This book though has major focus on the beginning of the tragedy, but in patches also covers the events upto 1992. However, a dedicated CPI cadre herself, Krishna Jha, whom I have privilege of knowing for long, could have relate her excellent findings with the dwindling stake of left parties on the wake of high drama.
The books open little on this-but beyond that, it gives enough insight to know communalism has changed the line of political priorities. It also comprehensively recalls the roles Gandhian activists, who fought against the communal politics in Ayodhya. Decades later, the politics is more competitive and dramatic then it was at any point of time in modern India.
Written without obvious political bias and in gentler tone, this book is an essential read to know the genesis, development and saturation of Ayodhya episode. To wipe-out the metaphor (which is unpleasant) would be not possible for anyone, so that would be continuing!
Atul K Thakur
(Published in Rising Kashmir on May12,2013)