If Babari Verdict Comes…
Tuesday we should know if the Supreme Court (SC) will allow the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court to deliver its verdict on the Babari Mosque dispute. According to legal experts the SC’s decision to defer the verdict and allow a last minute chance for the parties to the dispute to reach an out-of-court settlement was unorthodox. A further deferment may therefore appear unlikely. If the High Court is allowed to deliver its verdict what might happen? I shall stick my neck out and make a conjecture based partly on political vibes and partly on wishful thinking.
On the Hindu side it is the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the Sants who are most vociferous about immediate construction of the Ram Temple whatever the verdict. Sections in the RSS and BJP appear to be more muted because of the current context and the changed times. On the Muslim side both the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) as well as the All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) have stuck to their positions that the court verdict must be followed and no out-of-court settlement may be entertained.
The Babari Mosque belongs to the Shiite community. The All-India leader of this community is Maulana Syed Kalbe Sadiq. He is President of AISPLB and the Vice-President of AIMPLB. He is smart and savvy. To agree to any out-of-court settlement just before a verdict that might swing their way would be a daft decision by the Muslims. This dispute has been going on for decades and to throw away all that past effort on the eve of a possible victory would simply not make sense. After all, the dispute has also been largely a battle between egos of the leaders of both communities.
So what could conceivably happen? After winning the court verdict Maulana Kalbe Sadiq on behalf of the AIMPLB might, just might, offer a formula for reconciliation on the Babari site. Even if it is not one hundred per cent satisfactory for the Hindus there should be give and take on both sides to make it acceptable. Why on earth would Muslims conceivably take such a step? They might do it for two reasons.
First, they would have made their point and obtained a legal victory over their opponents. To use a popular Indian idiom the struggle by protagonists on both sides has been mostly to determine which side sports a bigger moustache. Only after that would Muslims be showing their magnanimity! But that is not the only reason that might impel a surprise Muslim reaction post-verdict. The second reason would be traced to smart politics.
If the verdict goes against the Hindus they most likely will not give up the struggle but resort to means they should have adopted in the first place. They would not challenge the court verdict. They could seek to get a law passed in Parliament to declare the site sacred to the Hindus and allow them to build a Ram Temple on it. They do not have the majority in Parliament to achieve that at present. Imagine the election issue handed to them on a silver plate by an adverse verdict to attempt achieving that majority in the future. They would get a license to campaign countrywide to change the political agenda and the nation’s profile for at least one decade. And they would be following this agenda within the parameters of democratic functioning. Should Muslims risk giving them that opportunity?
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Dr. Rajinder Puri
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