Sabarimala vs Ayodhya: Modi-Shah’s reactions to two SC verdicts show BJP’s hypocrisy

"Be it Ram Bhakti or Rahim Bhakti (devotion to Ram or Rahim), it is imperative that we strengthen the spirit of rashtra bhakti (devotion to the country)," Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter soon after the Ayodhya verdict.

Home Minister Amit Shah echoed him. In a series of tweets, he welcomed the Supreme Court's unanimous decision on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title case.

"I appeal to people of all communities and religions to accept this decision with ease and remain committed to our resolve of 'Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat', full of peace and harmony," he wrote.

BJP leaders have hailed the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya case, but this is not a constant trend when it comes to the party's reactions to Supreme Court verdicts. Take the Sabarimala verdict from last year for example.

In his first reaction on the Supreme Court's historic 2018 judgment that allowed women to enter Kerala's Sabarimala temple Shah had asked the apex court to desist from giving judgments that "break the faith of people". He asked the state government and the courts to only issue orders that could be implemented.

"Article 14 (right to equality) is always being cited and appreciated. But there are Articles 25 and 26 which give every citizen the right to follow his faith. How can one fundamental right subsume the other?” he had asked.

Shah warned Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan that he would have to pay a “heavy price” if this continued, as BJP workers “would not hesitate to pull down the government”.

PM Modi too seemed to be on the same page, calling the State government’s conduct in the matter reprehensible. “For some time now, the entire nation has been talking about Sabarimala. The State government’s conduct here will go down in history as one of the most shameful by any party or government."

“We knew that the Communists don’t respect Indian history, culture, and spirituality, but nobody imagined they would have such hatred for others,” Modi said. He reminded the CPI(M) about what had happened to its government in Tripura.

To recapitulate, the Supreme Court had passed the historic verdict lifting ban on women’s entry in Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple in 2018. Dissenting judge Justice Indu Malhotra was the sole female judge at the Supreme Court bench. The five-judge bench consisted of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar, RF Nariman, DY Chandrachud.

Justice Malhotra had said that in a secular polity, courts cannot decide whether a religious practice is rational or logical. Courts must respect religious practices and beliefs of a multicultural set up of religions in India.

After the verdict came out, Home Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah "warned” the Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala against implementing the Supreme Court. On a visit to Kannur in Kerala, Shah added that several Supreme Court judgments have not been implemented, including Jallikattu, restriction of height for dahi-handi during Janmashthami and mosques to remove loudspeakers.

The BJP chief accused the LDF government of unfairly arresting 2,000 party workers, and warned the government of more protests on the Sabarimala issue and against its interference in religious traditions of the people.

In October 2018, he wrote on Twitter that the Sabarimala verdict has seen the nation witness a battle between "dharma, belief and bhakti on the one side and an oppressive Kerala government on the other".

"The LDF is using its power to suppress the belief of Ayyappa devotees. But Mr. Vijayan, I want to remind you that BJP stands firmly with the Ayyappa devotees," said. This tweet came out a month and a day after the Supreme Court verdict.

He warned that the State government was "playing with fire" in quelling with “brutal force” the protests of Ayyappa devotees over the Sabarimala issue and that an "emergency-like situation" now prevailed in Kerala. He accused the government of “conspiring against temples”.

In January this year, PM Modi, while addressing a rally in Kollam criticised the Congress too on the topic of Sabarimala.

"Congress has multiple stands - they say one thing in Parliament, but a different thing in Pattanamthitta. They say one thing on Monday and a different thing on another day," he said.

With the review verdict for Sabarimala coming out soon, it might be interesting to wait and watch how the ruling party reacts to the same.