Congress not to attend Lord Ram ‘Pran Pratistha’, calls it an ‘RSS, BJP event’

An incomplete Ram Temple in Ayodhya, IndiaAFP file photo

Calling the Ram Temple inauguration an event of the BJP and RSS, Congress has turned down the invitation for the ‘Pran Pratistha’ ceremony of Lord Ram Lalla, scheduled later this month in Ayodhya.

The senior Congress leaders -- Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury -- have ‘declined’ the invitation for the grand event in Ayodhya, the party’s general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.

“Last month, the Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and the Leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury received an invitation to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya to be held on 22 January, 2024,” he said in the statement.

“Lord Ram is worshipped by millions in our country. Religion is a personal matter. But the RSS/BJP have long made a political project of the temple in Ayodhya. The inauguration of the incomplete temple by the leaders of the BJP and the RSS has been obviously brought forward for electoral gain. While abiding by the 2019 Supreme Court judgment and honouring the sentiments of millions who revere Lord Ram, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have respectfully declined the invitation to what is clearly an RSS/BJP event,” it added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to attend the installation of the idol of Ram Lalla at the grand temple on 22 January. As per temple officials, the ceremony will be held over a span of seven days starting from 16 January.

Preparations are underway in full swing for the Ram Temple ‘Pran Pratishtha’ on 22 January, which will draw dignitaries and people from all walks of life. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has decided to enthrone Ram Lalla at the sanctum-sanctorum of the Ram Temple at noon on 22 January. Vedic rituals for the Pran-Pratishtha ceremony of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya will begin on 16 January, a week before the main ceremony.

A priest from Varanasi, Lakshmi Kant Dixit, will perform the main rituals of the consecration ceremony of Ram Lalla on 22 January. From 14 to 22 January, Ayodhya will mark the Amrit Mahotsav. Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, holds great spiritual, historical, and cultural significance for the people of India.

BJP tears into Congress

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday launched a no-holds-barred attack on Congress after its senior leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, turned down the invitation for this month’s inauguration ceremony of the Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

While Union Minister Smriti Irani said that the grand old party’s anti-Lord Ram face has now been exposed, her cabinet colleague Hardeep Singh Puri remarked that the decision would be regretted later.

“Congress party’s anti-Lord Ram face has been exposed before the nation. It is no surprise that under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, the party that had filed an affidavit before the court that Lord Ram is a fictional character, its leadership declined the invitation to the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ of Ram Temple...Under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Congress, INDI Alliance has insulted Sanatan Dharma again and again. Now, the declining of the invitation to the Pran Pratishtha by leaders of the INDI Alliance reflects their anti-Sanatan mindset,” Smriti Irani said.

Earlier in the day, Congress’ senior leaders--Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury--’declined’ the invitation to the ‘Pran Pratistha’ ceremony of Lord Ram Lalla in Ayodhya.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh alleged that the grand event is “clearly a Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh event”.

Responding to this, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said that it is the same party which once questioned Lord Ram’s existence.

“How will they go for the darshan? Isn’t it true that Congress fielded senior advocates to ensure that the Ram Temple is not constructed there? They called Lord Ram, a fictional character. The rejected Ram Setu...This has been their mindset from the beginning. I don’t think their thinking is going to change,” Tiwari said.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said that the decision to decline the invitation to the Ram Temple event in the temple town is ‘not surprising’.

“It should come as no surprise. The Congress party, over the last few decades, really took no steps to see that there should be a temple at Ayodhya. In fact, Congress-UPA Government filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court to deny the existence of Lord Ram. They stood in court and never wanted an early hearing,” he said.

Union Minister Puri told ANI that the grand old party will regret its decision.

“Leave them, let them say whatever they are saying, why do you take their words seriously? They themselves will regret their decision if they don’t go (on the Ram Temple inauguration ceremony),” he said.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur, too, attacked the opposition party, stating that the people of the country would boycott them in the future.

“This is the same Congress that described Lord Ram as an imaginary figure...Today, when Congress has boycotted the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ ceremony, it can be clearly seen that the people of India will also boycott them in the coming future,” Thakur said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Imran Pratapgarhi said, “Going to a temple or mosque is a matter of one’s personal devotion...Why does the BJP want to do politics over it?”

He said, “Actually, it is the politics being done by BJP that is disgusting.

Politicising people’s devotion is the most disgusting politics of BJP.”