As the Prana Pratishta ceremony at the Ramajanmabhumi temple in Ayodhya approaches, the Congress party in Kerala finds itself entangled in a complex situation, akin to being caught between the deep sea and a ruthless devil. The Ramajanmabhumi Trust’s invitation to all political parties nationwide for the auspicious program scheduled on January 22, 2024, has thrust the Congress in Kerala into a precarious position. Much like the broader national political landscape, the Congress in Kerala is grappling with the decision of whether to participate in the Prana Pratishta ceremony.
The Congress party faces a dilemma, particularly after the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM] declared its decision not to attend the ceremony. K. Sudhakaran, the Pradesh Congress President, has deferred the decision to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) high command. Sudhakaran indicates that the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) would communicate its stance if directed by the high command. Former Pradesh Congress President Mullappalli Ramachandran is reportedly supporting Sudhakaran, while another former president, K. Muraleedharan, expresses his opposition to attending the ceremony and has communicated this to the AICC.
There appears to be a contradiction in Sudhakaran’s statement, as Sasi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, asserts that he has not received an invitation. Tharoor emphasises that the temple is not a government matter but a personal attribute. The overarching concern within the Congress seems to revolve around the fear of losing support from the Muslim vote bank.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second-largest partner in the Congress-led opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), adds another layer of complexity. Furthermore, the Samasta Kerala Jem-Iyyathul Ulama, an orthodox Muslim organisation, urges the Congress to abandon what they perceive as ‘soft Hindutva.’ The organisation’s editorial warns that failure to unite ‘secular democratic’ forces against ‘Hindutva politics’ may lead to the defection of dalits and minorities to alternative parties committed to ‘saving’ them.
The Congress’s predicament is compounded by the fact that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has been actively courting both Samasta and IUML. The prospect of a new alliance poses a significant threat to the Congress, potentially relegating it to a minor political player. This complex web of considerations contributes to the Congress’s hesitancy regarding participation in the Prana Pratishta program.
In the midst of this, Union Minister V. Muraleedharan condemns the Congress’s indecision, alleging that it stems from the party’s consistent anti-Hindu stance.