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Ayodhya Event: Opposition Leaders Engage In Religious Acts to Tackle ‘Anti-Hindu’ Label

As the opposition decides to distance itself from the inauguration of the controversial Ayodhya temple, their leaders make up for it by participating in alternative rituals to try and change the negative image among the majority Hindu population.  

About a week ago, the top leaders of the prominent opposition party, Congress, had released an official statement “respectfully declining” the invitation to the ‘pran pratishtha’ of the newly built Ayodhya temple, scheduled for January 22. Meanwhile, other leaders of the opposition parties like Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress, and Shiv Sena among others, have also given statements clarifying that they would not be associating themselves with the Ram temple owing to its history.

The aforementioned stance of the opposition has faced backlash and labelled them as being anti-Hindu. Therefore, fearing potential repercussions, the opposition leaders have tactfully resorted to other alternatives to preserve their appeal and save their votes among the larger Hindu demographic, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Notwithstanding their collective decision that has impacted their public image, the opposition has included religious rituals in their Monday schedule, to counter the potential negative impact. 

Although the Congress top brass declined the invitation to the event, calling it BJP-RSS’s “political project”, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi (who is currently travelling across the Northeast as part of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra) will pay his tributes to an Assamese saint Sri Sankardev on January 22.

Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, had called the event a ‘gimmick show’ by the BJP. Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee is set to visit a Kali temple to offer prayers in Kolkata and then lead ‘Sarba Dharma’, an all-faith rally scheduled on January 22. 

Whereas Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, will be engrossed in a Sunderkand recital in the capital. In addition to that, the Delhi government is running a three-day grand Ramlila from Saturday, up until Monday. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the JD(U) Chief is likely to attend a state event on the same day observing the birth centenary of socialist icon Karpoori Thakur from January 22-24. 

Former Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief, Uddhav Thackeray, and his party leaders will perform a “maha aarti” in Kalaram Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Ram, in Nashik on January 22 in alignment with the consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. The statement comes after Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut was miffed over sending invitations via speed-post despite a ‘major and important role’ of the Thackeray family in the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation.

While some parties in south India like the JDS, BRS, TDP-JanaSena and others have accepted the invitation, most of the party leaders have declined to attend the ceremony but plan to visit the temple sometime in the future as devotees including Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah of Congress, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, etc. In line with the ceremony, Karnataka Congress has ordered all state-run temples to hold special pujas on the day.

On the other hand, CPI(M) has not only refused to attend the event, but its leader Brinda Karat has criticized it saying BJP is “politicizing religion”. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury was the first politician to turn down the invite for the ceremony. 

DMK’s Udhayanidhi Stalin said that his party does not have a problem with a temple coming up there but not at the expense of razing a mosque. Whereas, RJD chief Lalu Prasad has stood defiantly against LK Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra in the 1990s and has now announced that he wouldn’t attend the event.

From the above instances, it can be understood that some parties are trying not to give in to the trap of the BJP-RSS, while others are trying to strike a balance in appeasing both communities.

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