NEW DELHI, Dec 29: The Congress on Friday said a decision on the party leaders attending the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22 would be taken at an “appropriate time.”
The clarification came amidst reports that the Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be attending the consecration ceremony on January 22.
Apart from Ms Gandhi, Congress president and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, have been invited for the Ram Mandir inauguration.
“Chairman Congress Parliamentary Party Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge have been invited to the inauguration of the Ram Temple. A decision will be taken at an appropriate time, and communicated at an appropriate time,” party’s communication chief Jairam Ramesh said.
He distanced the party from the comment of senior leader Sam Pitroda, who had asked: “if Ram Mandir was the real issue or unemployment was.” “Sam Pitroda’s statement is not an official statement of the Congress. He doesn’t speak on behalf of the Congress party,” Mr Ramesh said.
The issue of handling the invitation for the consecration of the Ram Temple has become politically sensitive and has been discussed at the highest level. Sources said soon after Ms Gandhi and Mr Kharge received their invitation, there was a meeting of top leaders to decide the party’s position. Besides Mr Kharge and Ms Gandhi, other senior leaders who were consulted included P. Chidambaram, Ambika Soni, K.C. Venugopal, Mr Ramesh, Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Surjewala.
“The [Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra] Trust doesn’t belong to any party. What is the objection in going? Sonia ji is quite positive. Either she will go or our delegation will attend,” Mr Singh had earlier said.
The Congress leaders, however, may not be able to depute anyone in their place as the invitation is said to be non-transferable. The issue is also a tricky one as there is opposition within as well as among allies. The party’s ally in Kerala, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), is strongly opposed to it but maintained that the Congress can take its own call. The Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance too seems divided. While CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has already declined an invitation to the consecration ceremony, leaders of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) are strong supporters of the Ram Temple.
In fact, on November 9, 2019, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has stated that the party respected the Supreme Court verdict and favoured the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. However, in a post on X on Friday, CWC member and MP Shashi Tharoor said, “In 2024, it is clear the BJP will now revert to its core message and offer Narendra Modi to the nation as a Hindu Hriday Samrat”.
“All of this begs the question: what happened to achhe din? What happened to two crore jobs a year? What happened to economic growth that would benefit the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder? What happened to putting disposable income into the pockets and bank accounts of every Indian? These questions will have to be debated in an election that is shaping up to be Hindutva versus popular welfare,” said Mr Tharoor.