With August 5 finalised for the Ram Mandir ‘bhoomi pujan’ in Ayodhya, there are reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other frontline leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, including veteran leaders like L.K. Advani, are expected to attend the function.
While government sources confirm that the Prime Minister has indeed been invited, he still has to give a confirmation whether he will attend the ‘bhoomi pujan’. “The invitation to him has been extended by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust and also by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath but he hasn’t confirmed yet. Ultimately, he may just decide to go,” government sources tell Outlook.
However, there seems to be no credence to reports about other veterans like Advani attending the function. While the Trust, set-up by the Centre to oversee the construction of the temple, claims they have invited stalwarts like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who were at the forefront of the Ram Mandir movement, sources close to the senior leaders say that they haven’t got any intimation.
“How can anyone report that Advani ji will accompany the PM when he hasn’t even got the invitation. Nobody has got in touch with him,” sources add. Even Joshi has got no invitation.
In fact both the leaders are scheduled to appear before a special CBI court, through video conferencing, for recording their statements in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Joshi is due to record his statement on July 23 and Advani, a day after.
Political commentator and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, quoting a news report, had tweeted on July 21: “Extremely happy that LK Advani will grace the bhoomi puja for Ram temple in Ayodhya. Never forget Advani ji’s seminal contribution in destroying the stranglehold of a warped secularism from the political imagination. Advani recreated the political Hindu in contemporary India.”
Other leaders who led the Ram Janmabhoomi movement include Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust also claims to have extended an invitation to Home Minister Amit Shah, RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The ‘bhoomi pujan’ date also coincides with the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. Both, the Ram Mandir and abrogation of Article 370, have been core to BJP’s manifesto.