The Congress today declared that it would skip the massive inauguration ceremony being planned for the Ayodhya Ram Temple, saying it was a “political project” of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The party said its leaders — party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, his predecessor Sonia Gandhi and the party’s Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury — who received the invitation, have declined.
“Religion is a personal matter. But the RSS/BJP have long made a political project of the temple in Ayodhya. The inauguration of the incomplete temple by the leaders of the BJP and the RSS has been obviously brought forward for electoral gain,” read a statement from senior party leader Jairam Ramesh.
“While abiding by the 2019 Supreme Court judgment and honouring the sentiments of millions who revere Lord Ram, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have respectfully declined the invitation to what is clearly an RSS/BJP event,” he added.
The party’s refusal to attend the high-profile event is expected to become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP ahead of the general election. For the BJP, which traditionally accuses the Congress of playing to minority sentiments — it is expected to be political gold.
Several Opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress, have indicated that they would skip the event as well, providing ammunition to the BJP.
The building of the temple had been the centrepiece of the BJP’s political plank and its promise had contributed to the party’s meteoric rise in the 1990s.
The January 22 inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attended by political leaders, industrialists, actors and other prominent personalities. The event — which was preceded by the inauguration of an international airport and the redeveloped railway station — is generating huge interest.
The refurbished temple town is getting ready to host thousands on the big day, during which schools and colleges across Uttar Pradesh will remain shut. The event will be telecast live across the country and many places abroad.