As the BJP led union government prepares for the pompous inaugural ceremony of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the Congress government of Karnataka turns into an arena for debate.
Interestingly, the debate is not centred on a just analysis of the political history of Ram Mandir and Sangh Parivar, but what resonates in the responses is the question of “who is the genuine Hindu?”
Several opposition leaders who have expressed reservations against the ceremony were only against BJP politicising the inauguration of Ram Mandir temple in Ayodhya.
Drawing a parallel between the Pulwama attack and the Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya, Congress leader and Karnataka Planning and Statistics Minister, Dasharathaiah Sudhakar, said: “The BJP government used the Pulwama terror attack to secure votes in the last Lok Sabha elections, and this time, they are holding Lord Ram’s photo now.”
Sudhakar called the ceremony a “stunt”, while accusing the BJP of using Ayodhya Ram temple for its electoral gain.
“BJP is using India’s religious beliefs to garner votes. Where was Ram Mandir in the last elections?” questioned Sudhakar.
Speaking to the media, he remarked, “The inauguration of Ayodhya Ram Mandir is a stunt. People are not fools. We have been fooled twice. I am confident that we won’t be fooled for the third time.”
Further, he did not hesitate to add his ‘sincere’ commitment for the Ram Mandir project so as not to disappoint the majoritarian consciousness, “It is true that the opening of the Ram Mandir is in the background of the Lok Sabha Elections. MLA Raghumurthy and I contributed money to the Ram Mandir. We have also given bricks in the past.”
He stressed that the “Lord Ram is a god for everyone” while labelling BJP’s overwhelming interest in the inauguration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya an election gimmick.
Soon after the statement of Sudhakar came out, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday said that his government and his party are in full support of Ram Mandir.
“We are not against the issue of Ayodhya Ram Mandir, we are not against building a temple either, we are not against Ram Mandir, we are in favour of Ram Mandir,” said Siddaramaiah on Sunday.
His comments have come at the time when one of his ministers alleged the Union government for using the Ram Mandir inauguration to gain votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections.
Even though the Congress party has been criticised for its overt display of “soft Hindutva’, the modus operandi of Karnataka Congress in recent past was deemed as distinct from the rest of the states.
The lifting of the previous BJP government’s ban on the hijab was another highly praised move by the Congress-led administration.
But the current competition, which began after the declaration of Ram Mandir inauguration dates, within the Karnataka Congress fold to qualify the “better Hindu test” has been regarded as repulsive by the critics.
The consecration ceremony (pran pratishtha) of the Ram Mandir is scheduled to be held on 22 January.
The temple stands where the Babri Masjid, which was torn down by a mob of Hindu nationalists on December 6, 1992, earlier stood.
The construction began after the Supreme Court of India on 09 November 2019 ordered the entire land to be allocated for the temple, granting amnesty to the perpetrators of the demolition.