Kamal Nath’s son to send papers with ‘Ram’ written 4.31 crore times to Ayodhya; M.P. Congress leaders tread cautiously

Move comes at time when top Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, have decided to skip the consecration ceremony

Updated - January 12, 2024 07:16 am IST

Published - January 12, 2024 01:21 am IST - Bhopal

File picture of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath with his son and party MP Nakul Nath

File picture of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath with his son and party MP Nakul Nath | Photo Credit: ANI

On a day when the Congress central leadership described the January 22 Ram Temple consecration as a “BJP-RSS event”, Nakul Nath, party MP from Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara and son of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, said he will send papers with Lord Ram’s name written on them 4.31 crore times, from his constituency to Ayodhya for the ceremony.

Speaking to presspersons on Wednesday, Mr. Nakul said he will distribute papers to the people to write ‘Ram’. These papers will be dispatched to Ayodhya in two buses, he said. “I want to tell the Ram devotees of Chhindwara that the city is going to make a record,” he said.

The father-son duo also wrote the name of Lord Ram on papers at the Hanuman Temple in Chhindwara. 

The Ram Temple construction and its consecration ceremony has been a politically sensitive issue in Madhya Pradesh and many in the Congress have been trying to tread a cautious path.

Also read: Ayodhya | Building a city around a temple

Senior leader and Congress Working Committee member Digvijaya Singh is one of them. Mr. Singh, who had made a generous donation for the temple construction, took a more nuanced view and was seen endorsing the Central leadership’s line, going back on his earlier stance that there was no problem in Congress leaders attending the event.

Earlier this month, Mr. Singh had said he did not “need anyone’s invitation” to attend the event since the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust was set up based on the Supreme Court judgment, and the same court verdict had paved the way for the construction of the Ram Temple.

On Thursday, Mr. Singh said, “As per religious scriptures, no ‘pran pratishtha’ of any idol can be done at a temple, the construction of which is incomplete, it is considered ominous. How many invitees have accepted the invitation? No established religious leader has accepted the invitation. They have raised an objection.”

Mr. Singh also noted that various other parties that received the invitation, including “the RJD, JD(U), Trinamool Congress, CPI and the CPI(M)” are also not attending the event. “Shiv Sena, which led the Babri Masjid demolition, too has declined the invite,” he said, adding, “Lord Ram belongs to everyone. We would be delighted to visit the temple but let the construction finish first. They have turned into this a BJP and VHP event.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Kamal Nath reiterated what he said before the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election that the BJP does not have monopoly over the Ram Temple. 

“Ram Mandir belongs to everyone. Its construction began after the Supreme Court judgment and the BJP was in government (at the Centre) so it was its responsibility to build it. The BJP does not have the patta (ownership) of the Ram Mandir, it belongs to the entire nation,” he said. 

Asked if he will go to Ayodhya on January 22, he said that he will visit the temple sometime after the consecration. 

Mr. Kamal and Mr. Nakul’s move comes at time when the top Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, national president Mallikarjun Kharge and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, decided to skip the consecration ceremony. 

Before the November Assembly election in which the BJP emerged victorious and the Congress was reduced to 66 seats, Mr. Kamal Nath, then State Congress chief, had given various statements showcasing his Hindu credentials and remained unapologetic about his religious stance, in an attempt to prevent polarisation of votes. 

However, various internal assessments of the party after the election revealed that the “visible shift to Sanatana might have backfired in rural areas” in the election, a source in M.P. Congress told The Hindu.

“It looked like a desperate attempt from some of our leaders and people actually remembered past statements of some leaders that seemed against their religion,” the source had said. 

Insult, says CM

The statements of Congress leaders and the party’s confusion over attending the ceremony has brought it under attack from the ruling BJP in the State. Chief Minister Mohan Yadav said the Congress had “hurt the sentiments of the country’s majority population” by making public their decline of the invite.

“First, the Congress created obstacles in (the construction) of Ram Temple. Now they have insulted the ‘pran prathishta’. If they don’t want to come, it’s fine but by refusing (the invitation), they have hurt the Hindus’ sentiments. The Congress should apologise,” he said.

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