The 31st of October is celebrated as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of one of the greatest political stalwarts of the 20th Century, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The decision to honour the Iron Man of India on his birth anniversary was taken after Prime Minister Modi assumed office in 2014.
Narendra Modi, on the occasion of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, made a particularly significant statement that is oozing with symbolism. The Prime Minister compared the reclamation of the Ram Janmabhoomi following the Supreme Court verdict with the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple with the endorsement of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Prime Minister Modi said that the spirit of the Yajna for cultural revival that was initiated with reconstruction of the Somnath Temple again manifested itself in Ayodhya with the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi and the construction of the Bhavya Ram Mandir that has now begun. This is a significant statement considering the symbolism of it.
सोमनाथ के पुनर्निर्माण से सरदार पटेल ने भारत के सांस्कृतिक गौरव को लौटाने का जो यज्ञ शुरू किया था, उसका विस्तार देश ने अयोध्या में भी देखा है।— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 31, 2020
आज देश राममंदिर पर सुप्रीमकोर्ट के फैसले का साक्षी बना है, और भव्य राममंदिर को बनते भी देख रहा है।#RashtriyaEktaDiwas
The first and foremost conclusion that can be drawn from the statement is that the construction of the Bhavya Ram Mandir marks the establishment of the Second Republic in India. It is not far-fetched to assert that if Sardar Patel had lived longer, the First Republic would not have been fated for Fire and Blood.
The vision of India that Sardar Patel had for the country was significantly different than the one envisioned by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. The reconstruction of Somnath Temple was ample evidence of it. His continued presence in the corridors of power would have ensured that Indian politics did not devolved into an orgy of minority appeasement and everything else that comes along with it.
It has to be understood why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh reveres Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel even though the two did not necessarily see eye to eye in most respects. One of the fundamental goals of the RSS has been to unite Hindus under a single political banner. What we take for granted seventy-three years after independence was very often the subject of a lot of uncertainty in the independence era.
Sardar Patel, by forging the Indian State as we know it today, ensured the consolidation of Hindus under a single nation-state. This meant that the foundation for the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra had been laid. All that remained for was for Hindutva-centric political entities to capture power. Thus, half the mammoth task was already completed. And for that, the Iron Man of India has the eternal gratitude of the Sangh.
The reconstruction of the Somnath Temple ought to be interpreted as the symbolic confirmation of that particular ideal. Of course, the removal of Hindu-centric political entities from the corridors of power in the years that followed meant that the remaining half of the task was delayed by decades. And the stranglehold of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty over Indian politics ensured that the First Republic was as against the interests of the Hindu Civilization as any regime could possibly be.
The regime that has been in power since 2014 and is likely to be for the foreseeable future has a markedly different worldview. In fact, the views are so divergent that it is entirely legitimate to consider the transfer of power in 2014 as the establishment of a New Republic. For this New Republic, Ayodhya is its crowning glory.
The ‘New India’ burns with the same fire that fuelled the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple. Of course, the latter did not amount to much as there was no successor to assume the mantle of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel but this time around, the situation is markedly different. Narendra Modi has a host of extremely capable leaders to carry forward his legacy. And that is so because he is only the figurehead of a vast network of Hindutva-centric organisations forming the backbone of the Second Republic.
That we are living in the age of the Second Republic is evident from the conduct of Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, during the Somnath Temple reconstruction when compared with that of the sitting Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi. Nehru opposed what he called ‘Hindu Revivalism’ and considered then President Rajendra Prasad attending its inauguration as a violation of the tenets of Secularism.
This is in stark contrast with the events of the Bhoomi Pujan at Ayodhya. The Prime Minister of India not only attended it but participated in it himself. The rituals broadcast live on television all over the country reminded one of the heydays of Hindu Civilization when ruling Monarchs would organise grand Hindu ceremonies for the prosperity of their Kingdoms. The August of 5, 2020 settled all remaining doubts that we are indeed in the age of the Second Republic.
Thus, the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple and the reclamation of Ram Janmabhoomi are both manifestations of the great Hindu Civilization and Prime Minister Modi is keenly aware of it himself. On the 5th of August, 2020, Narendra Modi compared the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement (RJB-M) to the Indian struggle for Independence.
He was extremely accurate, of course. For the founders of the Second Republic, the RJB-M was the mass movement that propelled them to power. Just as the founders of the First Republic established a regime with minority appeasement as its cornerstone based on the Indian Independence Movement, those of the Second Republic banked on RJB-M for their success.
In the grand scheme of things, the Somnath Temple reconstruction symbolizes a path India could have taken since independence itself but one it refused to tread. The reclamation of the Ram Mandir, on the other hand, marks the rekindling of the ancient fire that inspired our ancestors to victory. Ideally, the time frame between the two ought to have been minimal. But as the Gods have fated it to happen, it took us seven decades. However, as the wise men say, better late than never.
There is one other important aspect that the Somnath Temple is symbolic of. The continued existence of the Somnath Temple reflects the undying valour of the Hindus to rise again and again from the funeral pyre of their civilization in order to usher in a new era of grandeur and prosperity. Similarly, the Ram Mandir, which is set to be constructed after five centuries, reflects the growing Hindu assertiveness and their relentless pursuit of the continued worship of our Devas. If the former is reflective of the famed Hindu resilience, the latter symbolizes that Hindus are now stronger than they have ever been in recent memory.
The invocation of the sacred link on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is emblematic of one other aspect that has not received adequate attention. While interfaith relations during the First Republic was based on minority establishment and Nehruvian Secularism, the basis for the same in the Second Republic will be unabashed Hinduism, confident in its ability to shine as the beacon of harmony in the world. It is, again, a significant departure from the KoolAid of secularism that we were forced to swallow during the previous regime.