On Makar Sankranti, Deepender Hooda, UP Congress Leaders Rush To Ayodhya


Senior leaders of the Uttar Pradesh Congress made a beeline for Ayodhya on Makar Sankranti today, notwithstanding their Central leaders’ refusal to attend the Ram temple consecration ceremony, or the party line that the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are using the event to gain political milage ahead of the Lok Sabha election. When asked, they indicated that it was a personal visit. “Lord Ram belongs to everyone,” was the refrain.

Leaders of the UP Congress have already declared that they would attend the consecration event. Today, they took a dip in Saryu river, had the Darshan of Ram Lalla and went to Hanumangarhi.

Asked if their action was not a deviation from the party line, UP leader Avinash Pande said party chief Mallikarjun Kharge has openly said that “those who have faith can go”.

“We have not invited anyone to attend, nor are we stopping anyone from attending,” he quoted Mr Kharge as saying.

The Congress is against the way this event is being politicised and used to create rift in society, he added.   

Rajya Sabha MP and Haryana Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda, who was among the UP contingent that included state Congress chief Ajai Rai and senior leader Avdesh Pratap Singh, insisted that he was a regular visitor.

“I came last year too. Today on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti, I have to gaze upon Ram Lalla and seek his blessings. This is how I recharge,” he said.

Asked about the party line, he refused to take any “political question”. “Ram does not belong to any particular person. He belongs to everyone,” he added.

Last week, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury declined the invite for January 22 temple consecration.

“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 from senior party leader Jairam Ramesh.

As the BJP erupted in vociferous condemnation, Mr Kharge said it was not the party’s intention to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments.

“Our issue is this – what work is the PM doing to ensure jobs for the public? What steps is he taking to control inflation? What is he doing for poor people… People having faith can go (to the temple) today… they can go tomorrow also,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and more than 6,000 people are expected to attend the mega event of January 22 – the consecration of the Ram temple.

The BJP has alleged that the Congress leaders who declined the January 22 invite have “lost their minds” as Ravana did in “Treta Yug”. For this, they will be punished by the people, the party leaders have insisted.

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