Congress, Akhilesh decline invitations to attend Ram temple event | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI/ LUCKNOW: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Sonia Gandhi and Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday “respectfully declined” government’s invitation to attend the Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya, saying they would not attend an “RSS-BJP event”.
The Congress statement sought to make a distinction between the BJP-backed “political event” and the party’s reverence for the Ram temple.
Responding to the invite sent to him by VHP working president Alok Kumar, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said he doesn’t “know him” (Kumar). “Only people known to each other extend invitations,” he said. “This (BJP) government is against minorities. Our gods are PDA – Pichhade, Dalit and Alpasankhayak (backward, Dalit and minorities).” However, Kumar said the invite was from Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra.
VHP working president Alok Kumar alluded to Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the UP CM in 1990, ordering police to fire at kar sevaks marching towards the barricaded Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. Official records state 17 casualties, but VHP, RSS, and BJP claim a higher toll.
In 2017, Mulayam referred to the firing as a “painful” decision, but one he had to make to “preserve the country’s unity and integrity”.
Kumar said: “We want to forget the past. We want to start afresh. Ram Mandir belongs to all. And therefore, we are inviting all political leaders with dignity and grace. They would receive all the respect they deserve. It is now up to them to decide.” SP national general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya justified the 1990 police firing, terming it an act to uphold the rule of law. “His decision to decline it shows that either he is seeking an excuse for not attending the ceremony or maybe his conscience was still being driven by what happened in 1990,” Kumar said.
While declining the invitation, the Congress statement to sought to make a clear distinction between the BJPbacked “political event” and the party’s reverence for the Ram temple. It came amid an announcement by Congress’ UP chief Ajay Rai that besides him, AICC general secretary in-charge Avinash Pandey, P L Punia and Pramod Tiwari would be part of the 100 office-bearers of the party’s UP unit to visit the make-shift Ram temple on January 15, coinciding with Makar Sankranti. Congress’s communications chief Jairam Ramesh accused BJP and RSS of turning the temple consecration into a “political project” for electoral gains and questioned the government’s motive behind inaugurating an “incomplete” temple. A handful of Congress leaders are expected to reach Ayodhya on January 22, if only in their personal capacity.

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