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  India   Politics  11 Jan 2024  Sonia, Kharge decline Ayodhya invite

Sonia, Kharge decline Ayodhya invite

THE ASIAN AGE. | ASHHAR KHAN
Published : Jan 11, 2024, 2:27 am IST
Updated : Jan 11, 2024, 2:27 am IST

Around 100 Congress office-bearers from Uttar Pradesh will visit Ayodhya on January 15 on Makar Sankranti

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Sonia Gandhi. (PTI)
 Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Sonia Gandhi. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress Party on Wednesday decided to skip the Ram Mandir inauguration ceremony in Ayodhya on January 22, citing it as a “political project” of the BJP and RSS. The party said its leaders -- Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, his predecessor Sonia Gandhi and the party’s Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury -- who had received the invitation, have declined. “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,” read a statement by senior party leader Jairam Ramesh.

“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,” he added. The party’s refusal to attend the high-profile event is expected to become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP ahead of the general election.

The BJP on Wednesday attacked the Congress after party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury declined the invitation to attend the Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya and said “they have lost their minds as Ravan did in Treta Yug”. BJP leader Nalin Kohli said: “The Congress officially saying that its senior leaders will not be there in Ayodhya on January 22 should come as no surprise because over the last few decades, it really took no steps to see that there should be a temple in Ayodhya.”

Around 100 Congress office-bearers from Uttar Pradesh, including the party’s state unit chief Ajay Rai and state in-charge Avinash Pande, will visit Ayodhya on January 15 on Makar Sankranti. During their visit to the holy city, the Congress leaders will take a dip in the Saryu river, and then visit the Ram temple and Hanumangarhi temple, Mr Rai had said on Sunday.
”On January 15, I am going to Ayodhya. Our general secretary and UP in-charge Avinash Pande, and senior leaders Pramod Tiwari and P.L. Punia will also visit Ayodhya”, he said.

Several Opposition parties, including the Left and Trinamul Congress, have made it clear that they would skip the event as well, providing ammunition to the BJP. The Samajwadi Party is undecided -- while the party has turned down the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's invite, its MLAs are keen on going. Sharad Pawar said he would not need an invite and go there as and when it is “destined”.  Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena UBT is yet to get an invite.

Tags: sonia gandhi, mallikarjun kharge, adhir ranjan chowdhury, jairam ramesh
Location: India, Delhi