Lok Sabha deliberations on the last day of the budget session today (10 February) were dominated by speeches on Rama and the historic inauguration of His temple in Ayodhya. Under rule 193, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that the house had decided to hold a special discussion on the life consecration of Ram Lalla.
It was BJP MP Satyapal Singh who proposed the topic, saying that Rama belonged to everyone irrespective of different religions and geographical boundaries. He said that seeing the temple being built and being consecrated in this lifetime was historic in itself. “Lord Rama is not a communal subject. Sriram is not only for Hindus, He is the ancestor and inspiration of all of us as, during the era of Rama, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were not separate religions or sects.”
Taking on the Indian National Congress (INC), Singh claimed that the then UPA government had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which asserted that Rama was an imaginary character [fact check: It was the Archaeological Survey of India that had made this claim in its affidavit in the Supreme Court]. He said, “Congress rejected Ram at that time, hence they are in this pathetic state today.” Singh said that denying the existence of Lord Rama was denying one’s culture, civilisation and heritage.
Singh said that in every era there emerged some great men whom the future remembers. He also read a couplet by Urdu poet Allama Iqbal:
हज़ारों साल नरगिस अपनी बेनूरी पे रोती है।A daffodil cries for thousands of years due to her lack of lustre until, with great difficulty, a beholder arrives in the garden to appreciate its beauty.
बड़ी मुश्किल से होता है चमन में दीदावर पैदा।
Singh said, “Such a man of the era, such a visionary, is Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi who gets the credit for the construction of the Ram temple. Prime Minister Modi came; he built the Ram temple and also worked to bring Ram Rajya into the country.”
Taking exception to this proclamation from the treasury benches, INC MP Gaurav Gogoi said that his party had been serving the country based on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Rama Rajya, which entails inter-religion harmony and happiness of all whereas, under the BJP-led NDA government, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and women are suffering injustice and discrimination. He alleged, “On 22 January, the day of Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was stopped from visiting the birthplace of Srimant Sankardev in Assam. He did not get a chance to appear on TV channels.”
Gogoi said the slogan of ‘Jai Sriram’ raised by BJP members reflected bitterness and anger. As BJP MPs protested, he continued, “If there is hatred in your speech, you cannot be a devotee of Ram.”
Targeting the BJP-led NDA regime, Gogoi said that this country was not born after the arrival of the Modi government in 2014. “This country was not born on 22 January 2024 either. Ram Lalla was with us even 500 years ago. Even today, He will be with us even after your government goes down tomorrow. Ram is in our mind.”
Gogoi said, “Gandhiji’s definition of Rama Rajya is where everyone is happy and no one is unhappy.” He said, “My Hindu religion teaches respect for all religions. The secret of Rama Rajya is hidden in this.”
“We believe in secularism; we believe in the equality of all religions. I’d like to caution the ruling party that we should leave the path of Nathuram (Godse),” Gogoi said.
“Avoid the malaise of ego. It was ego that killed Ravana. Your ego prevents you from seeing inflation and increasing instability in the country. We should continue to work with the spirit of service. In whatever little time you have left, work with a spirit of service.”
On his turn, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Rama temple in Ayodhya was the victory of development over demolition. He said, “The day of 22 January will be counted in history for 10,000 years. The 22nd of January is the beginning of the journey to a great India.”
The union home minister said, “Today, I do not have to answer anyone; today I want to express my feelings and be a voice of the people of the country in the House. This voice was suppressed in the court papers for years. After Narendra Modi became prime minister, that voice found an expression.”
Recalling Mughal history and the oppression of Hindus by Muslim invaders, Shah said, “January 22 is the last day of the fight for justice that was going on since 1528. Thousands of people are no more; generations have gone without witnessing the day of reconstruction of the Ram temple. We are very fortunate,” he said, adding that the wish of the nation had been fulfilled in the abhijīta muhurta on 22 January.
“Ram Lalla is in His house after 330 years. No one can read the history of this country without being ignorant of the Ram movement. The dream of this Ram temple has been fulfilled during the time of Modi ji,” the home minister said.
“Today I remember the saints and organisations that fought for the Ram temple since 1528. Wherever they are today, they must be feeling happy. Taking a jibe at the opposition leaders, Shah said, “Bones should not be thrown in the havan (holy fire).”
Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-s-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen quoted a verse by Pakistani poet Habib Jalib:
हुक्मरां हो गए कमीने लोगThe mean now rule/ The gems are buried in dust/ The patriots have been humiliated/ The night is now protracted// Those who sang paeans to the dictator/ Got all the fame and appreciation/ The burglars had looted/ But those who showed the way were none the better.
खाक में मिल गए नगीने लोग
हर मुहिब्ब-ए-वतन ज़लील हुआ
रात का फ़ासला तवील हुआ
आमिरों के जो गीत गाते रहे
वही नाम-ओ-दाद पाते रहे
रहज़नों ने रहज़नी की थी
रहबरों ने भी क्या कमी की थी
Owaisi said, “Shiv Sena leader Shinde was saying in his speech that on 6 December when Babri Masjid was being martyred, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao was performing puja. You said it. He said not to disturb.”
“This is a strange occasion… (Rao and) the man who led the Rath Yatra… the Modi government gave the country’s highest civilian award to these two. It shows whether justice is alive or oppression is being perpetuated,” Owaisi said.
Union Minister of State for Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti said that being associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, she would congratulate Prime Minister Modi on behalf of the saints and people of the country. She said, “Bullets were fired on karsevaks during the Ram Mandir movement and the people who did so are part of the I.N.D.I.A. alliance.”
“Has Congress ever expressed grief over this incident?” the sadhvi said, adding she wanted to give the credit of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to (late VHP leader) Ashok Singhal.
“Prime Minister Modi has made the concept of Rama Rajya materialise in the true sense,” the Sadhvi said.
“A saint has no caste. I am proud that I was born in the Nishad community… It truly behoved the prime minister with a 56-inch chest (idiom) that he issued postage stamps in the name of Nishad Raj, Shabari and Ram Mandir,” Sadhvi Jyoti said.
BJP MP from Odisha Pratap Sarangi said, “There is a bid to politicise Lord Rama. Some people raised questions regarding the prāna pratisthā. Lord Rama is our faith; no one has the right to question him.”
Sarangi claimed, “If there were no Narendra Modi government and if there were to be a Congress government in its place today, the Rama temple would not have been built.”
The BJP MP said that while Justice late Devki Nandan Aggarwal had made ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’ the plaintiff in the case, senior advocate K Parasaran argued the case, standing barefoot in the court.
Shiv Sena’s Shrikant Shinde said, “The Rama temple symbolises sacrifice and penance for many generations. The Maharashtra government changed the name of Aurangabad to Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, but some people sitting in the (state legislative) house still call it Aurangabad.”
Shinde alleged that the INC still had the mentality of the British.
YSR Congress Party’s M Gurumurthy said that religious places of all religions should be developed.