INDIA bloc leaders stayed away from the Ram Temple consecration ceremony at Ayodhya but faith remained on the agenda for many of them on Monday, with Rahul Gandhi protesting after he was stopped from visiting a temple in Assam and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee holding an all-faith rally.
As BJP leaders went all out to project the event as a moment of national pride, some leaders were directly critical of the ceremony, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, belonging to the CPI(M), slamming the state’s role in the Ram Temple consecration, saying the line that demarcates religion and state seems to be ”getting thinner and thinner.” A few hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the consecration of the Ram Temple, Vijayan, in a message, said that a time has come when the inauguration of a religious place of worship in the country will be celebrated as a state event.
Many INDIA bloc leaders had earlier declined the invite to the ceremony, citing diverse reasons, with the Congress’s top brass alleging that it had been made into a ”BJP-RSS event”.
However, religion remained the dominant theme for many INDIA bloc leaders on the day, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, cabinet ministers, and AAP MLAs taking part in various events across the national capital as part of the party’s plan to mark the consecration ceremony at the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) organised shobha yatras and bhandaras in different parts of the national capital to celebrate the ‘Pran Pratistha (consecration)’ ceremony.
In a post in Hindi on X, Kejriwal said he participated in bhandaras organised in different areas of Delhi.
Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Assam, was stopped at Haibargaon en route to the birthplace of Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva.
He along with senior Congress leaders and supporters, staged a dharna while party MP Gaurav Gogoi and Batadrava MLA Sibamoni Bora proceeded to the birthplace to resolve the issue.
”During a law and order crisis, everyone can go to the birthplace of Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva, only ‘Rahul Gandhi cannot go,” Gandhi said in Assam’s Nagaon.
He said they had received an invitation on January 11 but ”on Sunday we were told that there is a law and order situation”.
The managing committee of the Sri Sankardeva Sattra on Sunday had announced that they will not allow the Congress leader to visit before 3 pm on January 22 due to events related to the Ayodhya consecration ceremony. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier on Sunday said at a press conference that he requested Gandhi not to visit before the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Deviating from his party line, Himachal Pradesh minister Vikramaditya Singh, who is the son of state Congress chief Pratibha Singh, reached Ayodhya to attend the consecration ceremony at the Ram temple. Another Congress MLA from the state Sudhir Sharma also reached Ayodhya for the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee embarked on a symbolic journey of religious harmony, while leading an all-faith rally that included visits to diverse places of worship, such as a temple, mosque, church, and gurdwara, aligning with the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya earlier in the day.
Accompanied by religious leaders from various faiths and key party members, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo initiated the ‘Sanghati March’ from Hazra More in Kolkata.
Prior to commencing the rally, Banerjee commenced the day by offering prayers at the iconic Kalighat temple in south Kolkata, seeking blessings from Goddess Kali.
Ahead of the Ram temple consecration ceremony, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the Lord resides in the hearts of those who respect customs, ethics and decorum.
He also posted on X a short animated video showing Lord Ram arriving in Ayodhya with Laxman and Goddess Sita.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor posted a picture of the consecrated Ram Lalla idol and wrote in Hindi, ”Siyawar Ramchandra Ki Jay”.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said in a post in Hindi, ”Today is a historic moment for all the people of the country, after a long wait of centuries, Lord Shri Ram is going to sit in his home Ayodhya.
”This is the victory of our religion, values and culture. This is the victory of centuries of struggle of the saints and the unwavering patience of the people of this country ‘that justice will be done’.” ”I wish that soon my family and I will reach Ayodhya Dham and have darshan of Lord Shri Ram. Lord Shri Ram belongs to everyone and we all should imbibe the thoughts of Lord Shri Ram for the progress of this nation,” she said.
Top Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had earlier ”respectfully declined” the invitation to attend the Ram Temple consecration ceremony, with the party accusing the BJP of making it into a ”political project” for electoral gains.
While West Bengal CM Banerjee had alleged that the BJP was indulging in a ”gimmick” through the inauguration of the Ram Mandir, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had also declined an invitation to the ceremony, with the Left party saying religion is a personal choice and should not be converted into an instrument of political gain.
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had said that he would visit Ayodhya to offer prayers to Lord Ram after the completion of the temple construction there.