Samajwadi Party (SP) president and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav reportedly turned down an invitation from VHP working president Alok Kumar for the January 22 consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Responding to the invite sent by the Hindutva leader, Akhilesh said he doesn’t “know him” (Kumar), according to Times of India. “Only people known to each other extend invitations,” he said.
“This (BJP) government is against minorities. Our gods are PDA – Pichhade, Dalit and Alpasankhayak (backward, Dalit and minorities),” said SP leader, the newspaper reported.
The temple stands where the Babri Masjid, which was torn down by a mob of Hindu nationalists on 6 December, 1992, earlier stood. The construction began after the Supreme Court of India on 9 November 2019 ordered the entire land to be allocated for the temple, granting amnesty to the perpetrators of the mosque demolition.
Congress also declared that it would skip the inauguration ceremony being planned for the Ram temple, saying it was a “political project” of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
The party said its leaders — party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, his predecessor Sonia Gandhi and the party’s Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury — who 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 from 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.
Several Opposition parties, including the Left and Trinamool Congress, have made it clear that they would skip the event as well.