In the 1990s, when India’s political discourse was marred by agitations on ‘Kar Seva’ and ‘Rath Yatra’, he was the Sangh Parivar’s celebrated ideologue and former BJP General Secretary, who was at the centre of the BJP’s Ram temple strategy.
Decades later, though he has cut his ties with the saffron party, he still feels the emotional surge as August 5, the day of the ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, nears.
K.N. Govindacharya says India doesn’t need “western” concepts like secularism while calling the ‘bhoomi pujan’ an “assertion of Hindu civilisation” and a “culmination” of a “civilisational struggle”. He also elaborates what “Ram Rajya” means.
Here is a full interview with the man who along with his mentor Lal Krishna Advani, was part of the core team that shaped the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
Q: You have been at the heart of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Now that the Ram Mandir ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ is just days away, when you look back, how does it feel?
A: It’s a struggle of 500 years. This is the assertion of Hindu civilisation after 500 years of struggle whose happy culmination we will witness through this ‘Bhoomi Pujan’. This civilisational aspect is very important as colonialism or Protestantism started around 500 years back. Due to that we have been witness to a Europe-centric prosperity soaked in blood. So, this ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ is also an important date in our own civilisational march.
Q: What is ‘Ram Rajya’? During the 1990s that phrase was used over and over again. What significance does it hold today?
A: The West has an anthropocentric developmental concept which caused two world wars and inequality. Where our effort of 500 years and ahead is for Ram Rajya. It is nothing but Hind Swaraj of Gandhiji which is ecocentric development. It’s a concept of being self sufficient, equality-based prosperity that is not based on inflation but contentment. Ram Rajya won’t have a price for products but appreciation for the skills to make that product. It is very different from the western school of thought.
Q: The term ‘Hindutva’ is being talked about regularly off late. Do you think there has been any shift in the country’s psyche?
A: After so long, Hindutva is getting the prime place. Naturally, the shift is being exhibited and accepted. When the Supreme Court decision (on Ram Mandir) came, the whole country accepted it with open heart. Most of them accepted it. It shows people’s march and civilisational assertion here and the phenomenon is going back to the roots. This event has got that civilisational significance.
Q: You often talk about secularism. But many in the present context accuse that the idea may have been changed with this ‘assertion’ and BJP coming to power. Do you agree with them?
A: Secularism was not needed for Bharat. Bharat has its own concept of respect to all modes of worship. Instead, the idea of secularism was borrowed from the West. The West had its own social and political conflicts amid which the concept of secularism was brought in. It has nothing to do with the history or geography of Bharat.
Q: Who do you credit for this legal win, after a century-long dispute?
A: It is the civilisational assertion which has won today in which lakhs of ‘Swayamsevaks’ and ‘Kar Sevaks’ put their lives at stake during the agitation led by Ashok Singhal. It is a collective victory of the whole nation, not of any one section, organisation or 1 or 10 leaders.
Q: Any suggestion for the Ram Mandir Teertha Kshetra trust from the man who has seen it all from close quarters?
A: My suggestion is much care should be taken that it remains in the hands of the people and it does not become a government department.
Q: Certain opposition leaders like Asaduddin Owaisi or Sharad Pawar have added a political colour to it. How do you respond?
A: That’s an unfair opinion towards a nation. They may fight their political battle on another plank. But on this issue, there should be complete national consensus. No jarring note will be helpful. But unfortunately, it’s there. It shows that more efforts for national consensus in the national psyche are needed.