The political linkages between the dealing with of COVID-19 by the Central authorities and numerous authorities and the Ram temple bhumi pujan ceremony at Ayodhya, held on August 5, had been the subject of debate in numerous boards proper from the announcement of the perform. For Vinay Katiyar, the previous Lok Sabha member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representing Ayodhya and founder president of the Bajrang Dal, which performed a giant function within the Ram temple agitation, the occasion was one that might bestow “such special blessings of Lord Ram on the BJP and its governments at the Centre and in the State that they would be able to overcome all challenges and problems confronting them”. Leaders of opposition events, equivalent to Communist Party of India (Marxist) common secretary Sitaram Yechury and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, categorised the bhumi pujan train as a misplaced, sectarian precedence, which was additionally geared toward diverting consideration from the federal government’s shortcomings in numerous areas, together with the combat in opposition to COVID and safety of the borders. In a telling commentary on the federal government’s priorities and failures, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, responding to a direct query on the occasion, emphasised that the accountability of governments and political management was to handle the intense state of affairs arising from the burgeoning variety of COVID circumstances throughout the nation.

Developments in Ayodhya following the bhumi pujan underscored Vijayan’s observations. As many as 20 safety personnel posted across the website and at the very least 5 clergymen related to the temple building, together with Nritya Gopal Das, the chief of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Nyas, the belief fashioned to supervise the development of the temple, examined optimistic for COVID within the first three weeks of August.

Shiv Sena’s poser

The case of Nritya Gopal Das was promptly taken up by the Shiv Sena, one-time ally of the BJP and at present the main accomplice within the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition authorities in Maharashtra, to lift some pertinent questions.

An editorial of the celebration’s organ Saamna on August 16 requested whether or not it will not be acceptable for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enter quarantine as he had shared the stage with the mahant throughout the bhumi pujan. It stated: “The 75-year-old Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was present on stage on August 5 at the bhumi pujan ceremony of the Ram Temple. He had not covered his face with a mask. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] chief Mohan Bhagwat came in contact with the mahant. Prime Minister Modi held the hand of Nritya Gopal Das with reverence. So will our Prime Minister be quarantined?”

The editorial additional stated: “At present, [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah is also in solitude after contracting the infection. Even former President Pranab Mukherjee has tested positive for the virus and his health is in a worrisome state. All Cabinet Members, bureaucrats, Parliament members are vulnerable to falling prey to the lethal infection. Even during riots and war, Delhi was not so frightened as it is today. The city seems to be a bit more scared now. The fear of Prime Minister Modi and Shah had already taken root, but the trepidation relating to coronavirus is stronger.”

Barely every week after the Saamna editorial, on August 21, India recorded the best single-day spike of 69,878 COVID circumstances. This was not an unintended excessive, as a result of for nearly two weeks till then, the variety of COVID circumstances day by day had ranged between 60,000 and 69,000. In this era India turned the world’s third affected nation on the planet—by way of mortality and variety of infections—after the United States and Brazil.

BJP-ruled States equivalent to Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, and Bihar, the place it’s a constituent of the ruling coalition, accounted for probably the most variety of these circumstances. The state of affairs was so unhealthy that in an internet assembly of Chief Ministers within the third week of August, the Prime Minister sought higher COVID administration from these States and West Bengal and Telangana. However, in response to many Health Department officers on the nationwide stage and in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, this surge in COVID circumstances was not getting mentioned significantly in political platforms or the media.

Disarming the opposition

Sangh Parivar activists, a majority of them from northern India, had been of the view that this lack of focus on the COVID state of affairs was not confined to official boards or the media and {that a} sizable variety of the inhabitants had additionally began trying past the hazards of the pandemic and making ready to hold on a standard life. In interactions with Frontline within the second week of August, each single considered one of them was of the view that this turnaround in in style temper was made potential on account of the bhumi pujan. While die-hard Ram devotees like Vinay Katiyar sought to attract consideration to the Ayodhya issue serving to the governments of Modi and Yogi Adityanath (in Uttar Pradesh), many others with a extra goal and lifelike bent of thoughts admitted that bringing the Hindutva agenda to the fore has helped the BJP and its governments to withstand the challenges earlier than them.

Some of those activists stated that in a sequence of discussions, together with these in on-line boards, leaders of the Sangh Parivar expressed satisfaction over the political affect of the bhumi pujan. This was in distinction to such discussions in March and April which had been marked by considerations over increasingly individuals getting disillusioned with the BJP, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, despite there being no concrete political resistance from opposition events. A stream of opinion proper from that point was {that a} Hindutva-oriented initiative just like the bhumi pujan might assist cowl up components inflicting in style disgruntlement over the dealing with of the COVID state of affairs aid actions and the resultant socio-economic issues.

After the most recent spherical of discussions, Sangh Parivar leaders have come to the conclusion that the bhumi pujan had not solely fulfilled its political goal however really despatched all mainstream opposition events right into a tizzy.

Talking to Frontline, Vinay Katiyar summed up this evaluation as follows: “The Ayodhya bhumi pujan has triggered a political chain reaction, which has laid bare the sense of nervousness in all mainstream opposition parties in north India. They are all clambering in desperation to share political space with the BJP by devising their own Hindutva-oriented projects. In many ways, these efforts by the opposition parties underscore the dominance and sway that the Hindutva ideology has got in the current political sphere of the country. We all know the reactions of the Congress leadership to the bhumi pujan event, including that of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who succumbed to our perspectives on the Ram mandir. That was a pitiable repetition of the efforts of former Congress leaders like Rajiv Gandhi to appropriate the Ayodhya Ram mandir project. It is quite evident that the current Congress attempts are a non-starter. But other opposition parties too have started some efforts in the present context. However, in its detail, most of these exercises are downright ridiculous and would not result in any political benefits to the opposition.”

While Vinay Katiyar made no direct reference to any political celebration, there was little doubt that he was referring to the strikes by the Samajwadi Party (S.P.) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh to hold out a marketing campaign to erect a statue of Parashuram, thought of to be the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. The S.P. has reportedly made some concrete strikes on this course. The celebration’s concept, apparently, is to erect a 108-foot Parashuram statue in Lucknow. By all indications, Abhishek Mishra, former Minister within the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet (2012-17), has been given cost of the politico-religious challenge. BSP chief Mayawati has introduced that after her celebration involves energy it will erect a statue larger than what the S.P. would construct.

Faizabad-based political observer Raghu Nandan Sharma informed Frontline that each the S.P. and the BSP gave the impression to be working on the premise that the higher caste Brahmin group in Uttar Pradesh is upset with the Yogi Adityanath authorities after the alleged encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey, a Brahmin who had appreciable clout inside the group. Said Raghu Nandan Sharma: “In fact, the Congress too seems to be working on the same premise, with its own Brahmin leader Jitin Prasada rustling up a campaign highlighting the so-called oppressive measures of the Yogi Adityanath government to marginalise the Brahmin community. Incidentally, Yogi Adityanath belongs to the other dominant upper caste community, the Thakurs. However, all these calculations are simplistic and overambitious. The fact is that Lord Ram is as much a symbol for the Brahmin community as he is for the Thakurs and evidently the Hindutva project is on the ascendant, in spite of all the problems relating to COVID and the economy.” His views have many takers in all of the opposition events in Uttar Pradesh.

The Bihar state of affairs

The state of affairs is comparable in Bihar too, the place the opposition Grand Alliance is disintegrating. There is a giant churning on account of the infighting within the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the principal constituent of the Grand Alliance. Nearly half a dozen members of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council from the celebration have left it and joined the Janata Dal (United), which guidelines the State in coalition with the BJP.

The Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), led by former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, has additionally introduced that it’s quitting the Grand Alliance. Manjhi has indicated that he’s headed in the direction of the JD(U)-led National Democratic Alliance.

The undeniable fact that elections are due within the State by the tip of the 12 months add significance to those developments. As noticed by the Prime Minister himself, Bihar has a poor report in dealing with the COVID menace, however all that has been glossed over by the majoritarian social and political agenda within the Hindi heartland States. The value of it on the nation’s public well being system and economic system are, after all, of no consequence when political and electoral features stay the first goal.