With the discovery of a Shivling and several other Hindu idols and symbols inside the disputed structure of Ghanvapi mosque in Varanasi, the debate over the legitimacy of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 has again taken the centre stage. As Hindu organisations increase efforts to reclaim ancient Hindu temples destroyed and replaced with mosques by Muslim invaders, demands to repeal the controversial act has gained momentum.
Disgruntled BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, who these days does not leave an opportunity to attack the Modi govt, today decided to use the act to criticise the BJP govt at the centre. In a tweet, he commented that “Even after 8 years as PM with absolute majority in Lok Sabha and de facto majority in Rajya Sabha, Modi has failed to withdraw the 1991 Places of Worship Act by moving Parliament for its deletion. It was expected of him.”
Even after 8 years as PM with absolute majority in Lok Sabha and de facto majority in Rajya Sabha, Modi has failed to withdraw the 1991 Places of Worship Act by moving Parliament for its deletion. It was expected of him.— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) May 19, 2022
For last few years the controversial politician has been opposing the Places of Worship Act, last year he had even filed a petition at the Supreme Court of India against the act. He had filed the plea challenging the constitutional validity of the act enacted by the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1991.
However, his recent stand on the act is a massive U-turn, because before the act was passed by the parliament, Subramanian Swamy had enthusiastically supported the bill. During the debate on the bill in Rajya Sabha on 12 September 1991, he had said that this was the best way of solving the problem. The problem was, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement across the country at that time.
Supporting the bill and insisting that the Babri structure must be preserved as a mosque, Subramanian Swamy had even suggested that the central government should take action if the BJP govt in Uttar Pradesh tries to change the situation of the Ram Janmabhoomi issue. “If necessary, they would be prepared to dismiss the Government of the BJP in U.P.” he had added in his address in Rajya Sabha.
Blaming the BJP and the Ram Mandir movement for the act, Swamy had said, “This Bill has been essentially brought because of the BJP and for the BJP. Had it been known in 1947 that such a situation is going to arise after 44 years, I am sure, such an enactment would have been passed in 1947 itself.”
During the debate, Swamy had claimed that ‘idols and the pictures were brought into the Babri structure in a sneaky manner’, and had claimed that there was never any Ram Mandir at that site.
While Swamy criticised BJP for not repealing the act he had supported, the party had strongly objected to the bill inside and outside the parliament. BJP leader Uma Bharti had led the party’s objection to the bill during the debate in parliament, saying that the matter of religious places can’t be settled in courts.
Objecting to locking the status of religious places as on 15th August 1947 under the Places of Worship Act, she Uma Bharti had said that the provision was pigeons closing their eyes to advancing cats. “This maintenance of status-quo of 1947 will mean preservation of tension for the coming generations”, the BJP leader had correctly predicted in her speech.
Interestingly, during her speech, Uma Bharti had commented on Gyanvapi, and had said that the Aurangzeb had deliberately kept some part of the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple in the disputed structure of the mosque, to remind Hindus about their fate. “Was not the intention of Aurangzeb behind leaving remnants of the temple at the site of the mosque, to keep reminding Hindus of their historical fate and to remind coming generations of Muslims of their past glory and power?” she had said.
It is true that after coming to power, BJP could have taken steps to repeal the act the party had opposed when it was passed three decades ago. While ordinary citizens, especially Hindus who want restoration of ancient Hindu temples, can complain about BJP not taking any step in this regard in the last eight years, Subramaniam Swamy lacks any moral authority to criticise BJP over the matter. Swamy had completely supported bill as seen in parliamentary records, and he had also objected to the Ram Mandir movement. Therefore, he can’t be taken seriously when he opposes the Act now.