Ayodhya | Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai and other party leaders took a holy dip in the Saryu river in Ayodhya on Makar Sankranti festival on Monday and paid obeisance to Ram Lalla.
While the Congress top brass has declined an invitation to the January 22 consecration ceremony at the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the party's Uttar Pradesh unit stuck to its plan to offer prayers in the holy city on Makar Sankranti.
The BJP took a swipe at the Congress leaders, calling them opportunists who can do anything for politics, but the Congress hit back.
"Sankrant is an auspicious occasion and we wanted to have the 'darshan' of Ram Lalla and offer prayers as our ancestors have done. Calling it political is a mistake and sin by the BJP. The truth is that BJP is doing dirty politics in the name of religion," Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said.
Asked about the Congress leaders' visit, Union minister and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said, "They are like 'barsati mendak' (rain frogs) They can do anything for politics... they have been doing appeasement politics, but I will say 'better late than never'.
"These people who had called Lord Ram a fictional character are now being awakened... they have started on the right path and they should now also clear their conscience," she said.
After the holy dip in the Saryu River, Rai and other Congress leaders headed for Hanumangarhi and the grand new Ram temple here.
To queries about Congress leaders not coming for Pran Prathistha on January 22, Rai said they have come to the pilgrim centre on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti.
"Isn't the statue of the deity Ram 'pran prathistit' ...we have come to pay respect to the god on a more auspicious day of Makar Sankranti," Rai told reporters.
Later he said that "we prayed for peace" in the country.
The visit was announced by Rai before the Congress said that president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party president Sonia Gandhi and leader of the party in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have turned down an invite for the January 22 temple consecration ceremony and accused the BJP of making it into a "political project" for electoral gains.
Earlier, in the day, Rai accompanied by leader of the Congress legislature party in UP assembly Aradhana Mishra Mona arrived in Ayodhya from the state capital Lucknow by road, state party leader Uma Shankar Pandey, said.
Senior leader Deepender Singh Hooda arrived in Ayodhya separately
"Lord Ram is the symbol of our faith. We believe that Ram belongs to everyone, and Lord Ram is within every person. This is not the first time I have come to Ayodhya. I came here a year ago to offer prayers to Ram Lalla," Hooda said.