Difficult for us to go to 'political function' designed around PM, RSS: Rahul Gandhi on Ram Temple ceremony

Difficult for us to go to 'political function' designed around PM, RSS: Rahul Gandhi on Ram Temple ceremony

Chiephobozou (Nagaland) | Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday alleged that the Ram temple consecration event in Ayodhya has been made into a "Narendra Modi and RSS-BJP function" with an "election flavour", as he strongly defended the decision of his party's top leaders to decline the invite to the ceremony.

Gandhi, whose family and party have been accused of being anti-Hindu by the BJP, also asserted that the Hindu dharma for him is a way of life and he tries to live by its principles, adding that those who "don't believe in it, need to wear it on their shirt".

"The issue frankly is that the RSS and the BJP have made the 22 January function a completely political, Narendra Modi function.

"It is difficult for us to go to a political function which is designed around the PM and the RSS. We made it clear whoever would like to visit the Ram temple among our partners, among our parties is more than welcome to do so," he said.

The former Congress chief's remarks at a press conference during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra here came days after Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Sonia Gandhi and the party's leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury declined the invitation to the Ram temple consecration ceremony event on January 22 in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya.

Hitting back, the BJP said the Ram temple is a deeply felt emotion by Hindus in every corner of the country and no one wants Rahul Gandhi to interpret how they should practice their beliefs.

"Rahul Gandhi lives in a la-la world. He thinks everything he says is predicated on nobody understanding the truth and he can get away with these atrocious lies," Union minister and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar told reporters in Delhi.

At the press conference, Rahul Gandhi also asserted there is mutual respect and affection between the leaders of the INDIA bloc and "small problems" in the alliance will be resolved.

He expressed confidence that the seat-sharing issues will be ironed out and claimed that the coalition will defeat the BJP in this year's Lok Sabha polls.

On the Ram temple issue, he said the Congress is open to all religions and practices.

Even the biggest authorities of the Hindu religion have made their view public about what they think about the January 22 function, that it is a political function, Gandhi said.

"It has become an RSS/BJP function and I think that is why the Congress president said he would not go to the function," he said.

"It is difficult for us to visit on the 22nd and say this is the PM's function, this is an RSS function and we are going to attend it. It is not possible," he said.

He alleged the RSS and BJP have given the January 22 function an election and political flavour. That is why the Congress president refused to go there, Gandhi added.

"As far as religion is concerned, we are with all religions. We want to say anyone who wants to go, can go (for temple darshan), from the Congress party, they can go.

"But we cannot be a party to a political function, it becomes very difficult for us when the PM of India and the RSS are principal opponents and have captured a function and turned it into an election function," he alleged.

Asked if he would visit the Ram temple during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Gandhi said the Yatra has a fixed route and they would follow it.

The Yatra would stay for a maximum period of 11 days and pass politically vital areas of Gandhi bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli and Prime Minister Modi's constituency of Varanasi.

However, Ayodhya was not on the route released by the party.

Asked about criticism of the BJP that the Gandhi family is "anti-Hindu", Gandhi said, "My thinking is that the one who really believes in religion keeps a personal relationship with religion. That person uses religion as a way of life. The one who keeps a public relationship with religion, that person takes advantage of religion."

"I don't try to take advantage of my religion I am not interested in that. I try to live by the principles of the religion. So I behave well with people, I respect people and if someone says something to me then I don't respond with arrogance, I listen to that person, I don't spread hate, this is the Hindu dharma for me and I follow that in my life," the Congress leader said.

He asserted that he doesn't need to wear his religion on his shirt. "Those who don't believe in it, need to wear it on their shirt," Gandhi added.

He asserted that the INDIA bloc is placed very well in taking on the BJP in 2024.

"There is mutual respect and affection between the leaders in the INDIA formation. The INDIA formation is an ideological formation that is placing itself in opposition to the idea of the RSS and the BJP. I am very confident that small problems in the alliance will be resolved. We will fight together and defeat them," Gandhi said.

Replying to a question on the status of the alliance with the Trinamool Congress, he said, "The status of the INDIA alliance is very good. We are in conversation with our partners, the issue of seat sharing is being taken up and I think it is going quite well. A lot of those are quite simple, I am quite confident that they will be resolved."

The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Gandhi reached Nagaland on Monday evening after it began in Thoubal in Manipur on January 14.

Talking about the Yatra, Gandhi said it was an ideological event designed to place an alternative vision to that of the BJP-RSS combine.

"This is an ideological yatra designed to place certain issues on the table.... A huge amount of injustice is taking place. There will be an election process, we will take part in it, this yatra is to present certain ideas and an alternative vision to what the BJP says, the divisive vision of BJP," the Congress leader said.

The march will pass through 100 Lok Sabha constituencies in 15 states, traversing 6,713 km, mostly in buses but also on foot, and culminate in Mumbai on March 20 or 21.

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