To attend Ram Temple inauguration or not? Congress faced with a dilemma

For the Congress, the stand of some of its allies such as Trinamool Congress, Muslim League and CPI(M) refusing to attend the event has created more trouble, as it is sure of the BJP reaping political dividends.
Last Updated : 28 December 2023, 08:19 IST

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New Delhi: The Ram temple inauguration in Ayodhya next month has triggered unease and confusion in the I.N.D.I.A bloc with the Congress treading a cautious path on its attendance while some other parties are warning against falling into the BJP trap.

The Congress has not made it clear whether Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who have received invitations to attend the January 22 consecration ceremony, will attend. General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal is in no hurry to announce their plans, with leaders being divided over the issue.

For Congress, the stand by some allies like Trinamool Congress, Muslim League, and CPI(M), refusing to attend the function, has created more trouble. The party is wary of the BJP reaping political dividends. Congress leaders are burning the midnight oil to come out with a nuanced stand, as a decision either way will have ramifications.

Trinamool Congress leaders stated that their supremo, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is unlikely to attend the event. They view the function as a "political agenda" of the BJP to further its prospects. Muslim League leaders are also uneasy about Congress' ambivalence over the invite.

However, JMM supremo and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said he would attend the ceremony provided he gets an invite.

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was cautious in his remarks, stating, "Don’t know if it (BJP) is using the issue for political or commercial purposes. We are happy that the temple is coming up, for which many have contributed." He mentioned that he has not received an invite but added, "I visit two-three places of faith that I don’t speak about in public. It’s a private matter."

Congress' dilemma on the Ayodhya invite was articulated by senior MP and Congress Working Committee member Shashi Tharoor who remarked, "People are trying to turn it into a political affair, but is that fair? It is akin to confining the Congress leadership in a box, suggesting that if they attend, it means they are playing into the BJP's hands, and if they don't, they are anti-Hindu. So, I believe individuals should make their own decisions, and they will do what they consider right." He said not going to a political event would not make anyone "anti-Hindu".

Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said he was not sure who received the invitation and who did not, but added, "I know for a fact that the BJP is turning this into a political agenda." However, another CWC member and senior Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh is of the view that party leaders should attend the event.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said, "Who wants to attend an event by the BJP? This is not a national event. This is the BJP's programme, this is the BJP's rally. What is holy in it? We will visit (Ayodhya) after the BJP's program is over... It seems like they have kidnapped Lord Ram." Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray is yet to receive an invite.

However, parties like the Samajwadi Party said its leaders will attend the ceremony if an invitation is extended. Otherwise, senior MP Dimple Yadav said, the party chief and her husband Akhilesh Yadav would visit the temple after the inauguration.

Published 28 December 2023, 08:19 IST

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