After Temple Trust Said No, VHP, RSS Invite Advani, Joshi for Ram Temple Inauguration
NEW DELHI, Dec 19: A day after the Ram temple trust “advised” the two veterans of the Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir movement to “stay away” from the inauguration of the Ayodhya temple on January 22, two units of the Sangh Parivar on Tuesday extended the invitation to Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, both former BJP presidents, to attend the ceremony.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, both members of the Sangh Parivar like the BJP, called on Advani and Joshi to extend the invitations to them.
This comes amid reports that the two leading figures of the Ram Mandir movement were mulling to stay away from Ayodhya in keeping with the advice of the temple trust secretary Champat Rai not to attend the inauguration ceremony to be presided over by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi “owing to their age and the biting cold.” “Both are elders of the family and considering their age, they were requested not to come, which was accepted by both,” Mr Rai had said on Monday.
Mr Advani, now 96, and Mr Joshi, 89, led the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from the front. A former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Advani took out the controversial ‘rath yatra’ from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh in 1990 to rally support for the movement. Though the yatra was stopped on way in Bihar by the then government led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, it not only created the necessary sentiments for the Ram temple in the Lord’s birthplace in Ayodhya, but had also strengthened the BJP’s roots in several parts of the country.
The yatra sparked communal violence at several cities in north India. Two years later, when the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished on December 6, 1992, as part of the Ram temple movement, both the BJP veterans were present on the spot. Strangely, while the temple trust “advised” Mr Advani and Mr Joshi to stay away from Ayodhya due to their advanced age, it issued invitation to the 90-year old former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, whose JD(S) party in Karnataka just joined the NDA block.
Alok Kumar, the International Working President of the VHP, and senior Sangh leader Ram Lal invited both Advani and Joshi to attend the ‘Pran Pratishtha’ programme of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
“Invited respected Lal Krishna Advani ji and respected Dr Murli Manohar Joshi ji, the pioneer of Ram Mandir movement, to attend the Pran Pratishtha program of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on 22 January 2024. There was talk about Ramji’s movement. Both the seniors said they will make every effort to come,” Alok Kumar said.
Mr Rai’s remarks had sparked a huge row, with many accusing the BJP leadership of sidelining and insulting the veteran leaders who led the party at one point and were instrumental in creating the necessary atmosphere for the construction of the Ram temple.
Mr Advani, the political mentor of Mr Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, and Mr Joshi along with several other senior leaders of the BJP were ignored after Mr Modi led the BJP to victory in the 2014 Parliamentary elections on grounds of being 75 plus. Mr Modi had then retired all the BJP leaders from active politics once they attained 75 years age, though exceptions like the Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel were also made.
Mr Rai had on Monday said Shankaracharyas of six ancient schools, about 4,000 saints and 2,200 others have been invited for the grand ceremony that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The guests will include heads of major temples such as Kashi Vishwanath and Vaishno Devi, he said.