Opposition continues to struggle with calibrating a response to Ram temple festivities

Congress remains undecided on the matter, while other parties stick to declarations of faith

Updated - January 09, 2024 11:22 am IST

Published - January 01, 2024 08:40 pm IST - New Delhi

Workers engaged in construction work of Ram Temple at Ayodhya ahead of the Temple inauguration on December 26, 2023.

Workers engaged in construction work of Ram Temple at Ayodhya ahead of the Temple inauguration on December 26, 2023. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The Opposition continues to struggle with calibrating a response on the issue of the consecration ceremony of Ram temple. From competitive declarations of devotion to displaying ambivalence about their presence at the January 22 event in Ayodhya to criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for turning the religious event into a political affair, the Opposition has beens speaking in many voices.

According to top sources, the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust is extending the invite to only heads of political parties and not to Chief Ministers. However, that did not stop Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu from declaring his faith in Lord Rama. “Even if there’s no invite from Ayodhya, Lord Ram is the core of our belief, is our ideal.. whether we get an invitation or not, even then it is our responsibility that we all follow the path shown by him (Lord Ram),” Mr. Sukhu said, adding that the event should not be politicised.

Former and current Congress presidents — Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge — have received invites but have not yet taken a call about attending. The Congress has been under attack from Left parties and their allies in Kerala, the IUML, for its ambivalence over the issue. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has already stated that he will not be attending the function.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav also made an ambiguous statement on Sunday to a direct question on whether he will participate in the “Pran Pratishtha” event. He said that he would go to the Temple “whenever God wants me to.” “Our ancestors and the people from the community believe that when the Lord calls us, only then can we go and worship,” he said.

RJD, meanwhile, has taken a clear stand in labelling the January 22 event as a political exercise. The party is committed to communal harmony, said senior leader Manoj K. Jha. “But faith is personal and even God will be distressed by the ungraceful public display of it. If Maryada Purshottam himself comes to earth after January 22 “Pran Pratishtha”, he will ask questions to PM Modi. He will ask where is employment for my youths and why is there disparity in income distribution with five islands of prosperity amidst sea of poverty,” he said.

On Saturday, Shiv Sena (UBT) — which finds itself in a tight spot considering its past as key campaigners in the temple movement — accused the BJP of misusing the Ram temple platform for electoral benefit. Party senior leader Sanjay Raut said, “Now, the only thing left is that the BJP will announce that Lord Ram will be their candidate for the elections.” He accused the BJP of kidnapping Lord Rama.

Responding to a query on whether Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray would take part in the idol consecration ceremony, he said, “Thackeray will definitely go but only after the BJP’s event gets over. Why should one go to a BJP event? It is not a national event. The BJP is holding rallies and campaigning a lot for this function but where is the purity in it.”

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