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Author: Eminent Contributors
Editor(s): A G Noorani
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8186219528
Those were the days when the Babri Masjid still stood in all its forlorn dignity and the Hindutva mobilization to supplant it with a temple to a revered mythological hero was just moving into high gear. Marshalling his forces for the assault, L K Advani sought his ideological inspiration from a most unlikely quarter. Hinduism he said, was the basic ethos of the land and Indian nationalism was defined by its primordial origins in Hinduism.
None of the key figures of India’s struggle for freedom really found it necessary to apologise for drawing their inspiration from Hindu cultural source. The campaign for Ayodhya flowed from the same wellsprings, and shared the same intent of cementing national solidarity. It was no different from Lokmnya Tilak’s revival of the Ganpati festival, or Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign for the protection of the cow, or Sardar Patel’s active endorsement of the reconstruction of the Somnath temple.
The mantle of nationalist legitimacy sat rather uncomfortably on Hindutva shoulders, and not merely because public credulity was strained by this particularly brazen effort to appropriate the icons of the freedom struggle. There was also a problem of tactical inconvenience. The plain fact was that the effort to tether Hindutva to a tradition of enlightened nationalism simply did not excite the passions that could carry the movement forward. Firmer moorings had to be sought in the historical past, which would not engender serious dissonaces with the political practices that Hindutva was crafting in the present.
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