| New Delhi |
Published: August 5, 2020 1:51:19 am
EVER since the 1980s, the project to build a Ram temple has split the political establishment but as Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Ayodhya for the bhoomi pujan Wednesday, nine months after a unanimous Supreme court verdict cleared the decks, there is a significant recalibration in the Opposition ranks.
The Congress invoked faith and humanity, from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra underlining the inclusive, all-encompassing nature of Ram to Kamal Nath hosting Hanuman Chalisa at home and announcing that he would send 11 silver bricks for the construction of the temple.
The remaining Opposition parties, especially those from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, suggested that it was time to “move on”.
After much thought, sources said, the Congress entered the bhoomi pujan discourse with a statement from Priyanka, in charge of UP. She said the “world, particularly the Indian sub-continent, has a deep rooted and indelible cultural imprint of the epic Ramayana…(which is) luminously etched in our cultural, spiritual and religious memory.”
She referred to “Ramkatha” manifesting itself in “immeasurable forms” North to South, East to West. “Ram belongs both to Sabri as also to Sugriv. Ram belongs to Valmiki as also to Bhasa. Ram belongs to Kamban as also to Ezhuthachan. Ram belongs to Kabir, to Tulsidas and to Raidas. Ram personifies each one of us. Mahatma Gandhi’s Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram bestows divine wisdom and equanimity. Waris Ali Shah says, Rab is Ram,” she said.
On tomorrow’s event, she said: “Let Lord Ram shower his blessing so that this function becomes a celebration of national unity, fraternity and cultural affinity.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the event “is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to show courage” and ask people to resolve to end the “stigma of untouchability… treat Dalits, Adivasis, backwards with equality.”
The Bhupesh Baghel Congress government in Chhattisgarh announced it will include the Rampal area in the Bastar district, where it said Ram had established a shivling and performed rituals, and Ramaram in Sukma district, where he had worshipped Bhudevi, among the places it plans to develop as part of the Ram exile tourism circuit.
Gujarat Congress Working President Hardik Patel announced he and his family will donate Rs 21,000 towards the construction of the temple. Kamal Nath welcomed the construction of the temple and pointed out that its foundation had been led by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi “who had opened the Ram Janmabhoomi temple site in 1985”.
The other Opposition parties may not have mirrored the Congress but were guarded in their response while the Left stood out.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told The Indian Express that the party’s Politburo has already said that “the takeover of the bhoomi pujan ceremony at Ayodhya by the UP administration along with the Central government involvement at the highest level of the Prime Minister goes against both the Supreme Court verdict and the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India.”
“The bhoomi pujan got transformed into a government function with full involvement of the UP government and the Union government. The Prime Minister’s participation has raised serious questions about the secular character of the State and the Constitution,” said CPI general secretary D Raja.
Both the parties said that the Covid preventive protocol stipulated by the Union Home Ministry rules out such religious gatherings.
The Trinamool Congress did not react despite requests for comment and the RJD questioned the timing of the bhoomi pujan. It was its patriarch and architect Lalu Prasad Yadav, who as Chief Minister of Bihar, had stopped L K Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra in 1990 and had him arrested.
“After the Supreme Court’s verdict, everybody knew that the temple was going to come. Whenever we think of Ram, we go back to the imagination of Mahatma Gandhi…his Ram is not simply Dashrath’s son. In 1909, he said Ram is god Jehova, Shiv, Khuda, Vishnu etc etc. With that kind of imagination, if you actually wanted to pay tribute to Lord Ram, the bhoomi pujan should have waited. Because you are struggling with hospitals, struggling with institutional care, people are dying in the pandemic,” said RJD leader and Rajya Sabha Manoj Kumar Jha.
Said Samajwadi spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary: “The Samajwadi Party believes that since the Supreme Court has given its decision, a Ram temple should be built there.” He said “there is no political challenge. Yeh religious kaam hai. This is neither a political work nor a political challenge.”
Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister of UP when in October 1990, the police opened fire at karsevaks who had gathered in Ayodhya on the call given by the VHP and the RSS.
Calling it a “passing phase,” BSP’s Lok Sabha MP Kunwar Danish Ali said: “One thing is clear: as of today, no political party wants to antagonise Hindu sentiment. The hardcore RSS and Hindutva ideology have created an atmosphere that if you are talking against Hindutva, it is seen as you are talking against Hinduism…So people are afraid.”
“We have no views. We had opposed the destruction of the mosque. Now it is over and the Court had ordered. What we have got to say in this now,” DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP T K S Elangovan said.
Lok Sabha MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, on the other hand, hit out at Opposition parties.
“Whenever it comes to the real issues of the Muslim community, whether it is the Babri Masjid or educational and political empowerment, all secular parties have been intellectually politically dishonest,” he said.
Referring to Priyanka’s statement, Owaisi said: “Why don’t you completely adopt the Hindutva ideology in toto?…In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister when locks were opened. In 1989, shilanyas was done. Buta Singh was Home Minister and N D Tewari the Chief Minister. On December 6, 1992, (when Babri Masjid was demolished), P V Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. This is the history of how the Congress Party deceived Muslims on the Babri Masjid issue,” he said.
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