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Ram Temple Inauguration: Opposition To Skip Jan 22 Ceremony, But Plan Alternate Temple Events

Several opposition parties across the country have declined to attend the Ram Temple inauguration in Ayodhya tomorrow but have scheduled maha-aartis and personal visits to temples in their own states, in a bid to boost religious sentiments.

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Preps for Ram Mandir consecration ceremony Photo: PTI/Vijay Verma
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Ahead of the Ram Temple inauguration in Ayodhya tomorrow, several opposition parties across the country have declined to attend the event, saying it is merely being used for electoral gain. 

But many of them have scheduled maha-aartis and personal visits to temples in their own states, in a bid to boost religious sentiments.

More than 7,000 people have been invited to Ayodhya to witness the consecration ceremony wherein Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform the ‘Pran Partishtha’ for the new temple, although it hasn’t been fully constructed yet. The idol of a five-year-old Ram Lalla was placed in the temple on Thursday amid chants of 'Jai Shri Ram'.

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Some parties like the CPI(M) have openly refused to attend the event, while also criticising attempts of creating “competitive communalism and political polarisation” in the name of protecting communal harmony. Whereas others have declined to attend the ceremony but plan to visit the temple once it is constructed. 

Parties in South India

DMK 

While Tamil Nadu’s ruling party DMK did not officially receive an invite for the event, Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s mother Durga was invited to the ceremony. However, Stalin said the party doesn’t accept building a temple by razing a mosque, and quoted his grandfather M Karunanidhi who had said that the party doesn't believe in mixing politics and religion. "We don't have a problem with a temple coming up there. We are not in agreement with the construction of a temple after demolishing a mosque," the DMK Youth Wing chief said.

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BRS

Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s K Kavitha said that the party didn’t get an official invite for the ‘Pran Prathistha’ event but they would eventually visit Ram Mandir ‘someday’. She had earlier praised the Ayodhya Ram Mandir consecration on social media as “a blessed event that will fulfill the wishes of millions of Hindus” – the first of such endorsement by a top BRS leader for the BJP-backed event. 

TDP-Jana Sena 

Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu and Janasena Party President Pawan Kalyan have received invitations and will be attending the inauguration ceremony. The two parties have forged an alliance for the upcoming polls in Andhra Pradesh. According to local media reports, they are expected to attend the ceremony together.

JDS

Former Prime Minister JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda was invited to the inauguration of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and will be attending. He also welcomed Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s statement that he will visit Ayodhya after January 22. “I welcome his statement. He has ordered special puja and maha mangalarathi in all temples on January 22 to mark the consecration in Ayodhya. This is a good decision.” Even though Karnataka Congress leaders will not be attending the event, they have ordered all state-run temples to hold special pujas on the day.

Other parties

Congress

The Congress top brass declined the invitation to the event at the Ram temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, calling it RSS and BJP’s “political project”. “Lord Ram is worshipped by millions in our country. 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," INC General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.

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However, Rahul Gandhi, who is currently travelling across the Northeast as part of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, will be going to Bordowa Satra in Nagaon district, which is the birthplace of Sri Sri Sankardev and pay his tributes to him on January 22.

Srimanta Sankardeva is an Assamese saint-scholar, social-religious reformer, poet, playwright and a towering figure in the cultural and religious history of Assam from the 15th-16th century.

While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not be attending the event in Ayodhya, she will visit a Kali temple to offer prayers and then lead a mega all-religion rally. This ‘Sarba Dharma’ rally will be held by the TMC on January 22 and will have people from all walks of life plus religious leaders from all faiths, and cover different shrines, before culminating in Park Circus Maidan, a minority-dominated area. She called the event in Ayodhya a ‘gimmick show’ by the BJP.

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AAP

AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal has not yet received an invitation to the ceremony. Speaking to reporters, he said that he got a letter that mentioned that a team would formally come to invite him. However, no one came. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, as he plans to visit the temple after the January 22 event. The Delhi government also kickstarted a three-day grand Ramlila for the residents of Delhi from Saturday, and it will be held until Monday. 

NCP

Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar expressed gratitude for the invitation and said that the joy and happiness of the mega event would reach him via the devotees who would be reaching there in large numbers. He said he would visit the temple later as “by then, the construction work of Ram temple will also be completed.”

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RJD

RJD national spokesperson Subodh Kumar Mehta endorsed the Congress’s stand of labelling the ceremony as an “RSS-BJP event”. RJD chief Lalu Prasad announced that he wouldn’t attend the event. It was young Lalu Prasad who stood defiant against LK Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra in the 1990s by getting the BJP leader arrested in Bihar before he could reach Ayodhya.

JD(U)

Although JD(U) Chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been invited to the event, he will likely be attending a state event on the same day – three-day celebration on the occasion of the birth centenary of socialist icon Karpoori Thakur from January 22-24. 

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Meanwhile, ministers from Nitish Kumar’s cabinet have been questioning the timing and intent behind the event, alleging that the BJP was creating a massive propaganda campaign around the temple consecration.

CPI(M)

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury became the first politician to turn down the invite for the consecration ceremony on January 22. “The CPI(M) policy has been to respect religious beliefs and safeguard the right of every individual to pursue their belief. It believes that religion is a personal choice not to be converted into an instrument for political gain. Therefore, we will not be attending the ceremony,” the CPI(M) statement read.

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BSP

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said she has received an invitation for the Ram Temple inauguration but was yet to decide whether she would attend it. She added that BSP welcomes the inauguration and the mosque construction in Ayodhya as per the 2019 Supreme Court verdict that paved the way for the building of the temple at the site of the demolished Babri Mosque – while also reiterating that BSP is secular and respects all religions and communities. 

Shiv Sena (UBT)

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray received an invitation for the event, but apparently via  ‘speed post’ – a move that angered Shiv Sena leaders. Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said that the Thackeray family had played a major and important role in the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. “You are giving a special invitation to the celebrities and film stars. They had nothing to do with Ram Janmabhoomi. But you are treating the Thackeray family this way? …Lord Ram will not forgive you and will curse you for this.”

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Meanwhile, Thackeray has said he and his party leaders will visit the Kalaram Temple, that is dedicated to Lord Ram, in Nashik on January 22, and perform a "maha aarti".

BJD

In a bid to counter BJP’s efforts in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Odisha government led by BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, inaugurated the Shreemandira Parikrama project, a Rs 800-crore heritage corridor around Puri’s Jagannath Temple, five days ahead of Ram Mandir’s inauguration. 

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