Sonia Gandhi, Kharge decline Ram temple consecration invite, Congress calls it ‘political project’

The Congress' Jairam Ramesh questioned the motive behind the inauguration of the "incomplete" temple by BJP and RSS leaders.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 10, 2024 | 5:30 PMUpdatedJan 10, 2024 | 5:40 PM

Mallikarjun Kharge with Congress veteran leader Sonia Gandhi. File Photo. South First.

The Congress announced on Wednesday, 10 January, that party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury declined the invitation to attend the Ram Temple consecration ceremony scheduled on 22 January.

The party alleged that it had been made into a “political project” by the BJP and the RSS for “electoral gain”.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh questioned the motive behind the inauguration of the “incomplete” temple by leaders of the BJP and the RSS.

Also read: Kharge in touch with leaders of all INDIA-bloc parties for seat-sharing

‘Declining the invite’

In a statement, Ramesh noted that Congress president and Leader the of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Gandhi and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Chowdhury received the invitation to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Ram temple at Ayodhya last month.

“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,” he said in the statement.

“The inauguration of the incomplete temple by the leaders of the BJP and the RSS has been obviously brought forward for electoral gain,” he added.

“While abiding by the 2019 Supreme Court judgment and honouring the sentiments of millions who revere Lord Ram, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have respectfully declined the invitation to what is clearly an RSS/BJP event,” he said.

Also read: Congress govt asks all Karnataka temples to offer special pujas

INDIA bloc partners’ stand

Earlier, underlining that the Congress’ “soul” was Hindu, the Shiv Sena (UBT) on 3 January said its leaders should attend the Ram Temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya if they received the special invitation, keeping aside political differences.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party is an ally of the Congress in Maha Vikas Aghadi, and also a member of the INDIA bloc of Opposition parties.

However, the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala on 29 December lashed out at the Congress for not deciding on the invitation. The CPI(M) said that it showed the political bankruptcy of that party.

CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan said that the move to build a temple with the support of the government was not befitting of a secular nation.

While the CPI(M) is an alliance partner in the Opposition bloc, the Left party and Congress are primary political rivals in Kerala. Earlier, the party’s national general secretary Sitaram Yechury had declined the consecration invitation.