Row over invitation to PM Modi for Ram Temple bhoomi pujan unwarranted: VHP
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has defended the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’s invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the bhoomi pujan on August 5 to mark the beginning of the temple construction in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya amid criticism by the Congress and the NCP for different reasons.
It has also asserted that the groundbreaking ceremony will be performed in line with all the laid down protocols for ensuring distancing and safekeeping during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Alok Kumar, the international working president of the VHP, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said the controversy over the invitation to the PM who is yet to confirm his presence, is unwarranted.
“There is no confirmation on who will be present for the ceremony. The invitations have been sent out by the trust after deciding the names unanimously,” he said.
Reacting to Congressman Hussain Dalwai’s comment that former PM Jawaharlal Nehru had refused to attend a similar ceremony for the Somnath Temple which was reconstructed, Kumar said Indian secularism celebrates all religions and does not negate them. “The secularism to us means that the state does not prefer of patronize any religion and treats all of them equally,” he said.
He went on to add, “It is a matter of record that PM Nehru had declined to attend the inauguration of Somnath Temple. However this is only half-truth. It must be recalled that Somnath Temple was inaugurated by the then President Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Nehru had sent a letter to Prasad advising that the President of a secular country should not attend the temple function. Dr. Rajendra Prasad had retorted that he was prepared to resign from the Presidency if that was Nehru’s view of the matter. Nehru did not pursue the matter.”
Former chief minister and Congress MP Digvijay Singh also questioned the invitation to the PM. Talking to news agency ANI he said If PM Modi lays the foundation stone of the temple on August 5, all Shankaracharyas and Swami Ramnareshacharya ji of Ramanandi sect should be invited to the function and made members of the Nyas. He also objected to the Centre’s decision of not including Shankaracharyas in the Nyas, but filling it up with VHP and BJP leaders.
Reacting to Singh’s statement Kumar said, it was the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the central government to appoint the trust.
On the allegations that the ceremony is being held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kumar said, “We believe that the central government, the government of UP and other governments are engaged in a determined war against Corona and on all fronts. They have successfully contained the endemic. India is progressing in finding a vaccine.”
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had also criticized the timing of the bhumi pujan and said while the Maharashtra government’s priority is to handle the Covid crisis, some feel that the coronavirus pandemic will vanish by erecting the Ram Temple.
The VHP hit back saying that the country and its life cannot be put on hold for an indefinite period. “Efforts are being made to resume normal life while taking precautions. The efforts to revive the economy, industry and services are urgently necessary and are being attempted. Similarly all social, religious and spiritual activities must go on,” Kumar said.