The tables have flipped since the last time a similar conflict erupted, as the BJP ramps up its criticism on the Rajasthan Congress government over the partial demolition of two temples in Alwar as part of an anti-encroachment operation.
93 religious monuments, including temples and several mazaars, were removed or shifted in Jaipur between 2012 and 2015, mostly under the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government, which took office in December 2013. The reasons ranged from constructions that were “obstructing” Metro maintenance and traffic to illegal construction or infringement on government property.
Raje was forced into a confrontation with the RSS when the temples were demolished. While the majority of the temples were demolished in accordance with Supreme Court orders as part of the district administration’s drive against illegal structures, the demolition and relocation of six temples in the Walled City to make way for the Jaipur Metro appears to have been the tipping point.
The six temples were relocated from Chhoti Chaupar to Old Atish Market: Rameshwar Mahadev Mandir, Kanwal Saheb Hanuman Mandir, Barah Ling Mahadev Mandir, Shri Bad Ke Balaji Mandir, Rozgareshwar Mahadev Mandir, and Kashtharan Mahadev Mandir (the last two appear to be over two centuries old).
The RSS compared the Raje government’s stance to that of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in July 2015, summoning nine BJP MLAs to its headquarters in Jaipur, Bharati Bhawan, to explain their “inaction” over the demolition.
Those close to Vasundhara Raje disputed the RSS’s claim that the issue was being used to undermine the CM, who had a separate political identity from the Sangh and had never bowed to it.
The Congress, for its part, had mostly stayed out of the protests over the demolition, allowing the BJP to focus on its internal conflicts. However, as the 2018 elections approached, the party has returned to the row.