A political spat has unfolded ahead of the consecration ceremony of the Ram Lala temple in Ayodhya, as Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray claimed he did not receive an invitation, while the chief priest countered, stating that invitations were only extended to “devotees of Bhagwan Ram.”
“Invitations are only extended to those who are devotees of Bhagwan Ram. It is totally wrong to say that the BJP is fighting in the name of Bhagwan Ram, our PM is respected everywhere. He has done immense work under his tenure. This is not politics. This is his devotion,” Acharya Das said to news agency ANI.
Chief priest at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple, Acharya Satyendra Das, took a swipe at Thackeray’s remarks, asserting that invitations were reserved for those devoted to Bhagwan Ram. He refuted the idea that the BJP was politicising the event, expressing admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and contributions during his tenure.
Thackeray, undeterred by the perceived snub, stated, “Ram Lalla is mine too. I can go anytime I wish. I can go now, I can go tomorrow. I just have one request that this event should not be made a political one.” He also emphasised his previous visits to Ayodhya, both as chief minister and before, declaring his intention to attend without a formal invitation.
Acharya Das criticised Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut for allegedly insulting and dragging Bhagwan Ram into politics, highlighting the irony that the same party once campaigned in the name of Bhagwan Ram. Raut had earlier suggested that the BJP would seek votes in the name of Bhagwan Ram ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“Sanjay Raut has so much pain that even he can’t express that, they were the ones who used to fight elections in the name of Bhagwan Ram. Those who believed in Bhagwan Ram are in power; what nonsense is he talking about? He is insulting Bhagwan Ram,” Das said.
Raut had earlier taken a jibe at the saffron party, saying that the BJP will seek votes in the name of Bhagwan Ram ahead of the Lok Sabha elections scheduled to happen this year.
“The PMO and government should shift base to Ayodhya. They will ask for votes only in Ram’s name because they have done nothing else,” Raut said.
As preparations for the consecration ceremony intensify, over 7,000 invitations, including 3,000 for VVIPs, have been dispatched to priests, donors, and politicians. The ceremony, scheduled for January 22, will witness Prime Minister Narendra Modi performing rituals in the sanctum sanctorum of the Ram Temple during the pran-pratishtha.
In response to the political tension, Saamana, the mouthpiece of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction), launched a scathing attack against the BJP government at the Centre. The editorial, dated January 1, 2024, expressed concerns about the event becoming more of a political spectacle than a devoted ceremony, criticising the government’s purported exploitation of the temple for political gains.
The editorial, published on Monday, January 1, 2024, focuses on the upcoming inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and argues that the event risks becoming “more entangled in a political event than devotion.” While acknowledging the significance of the temple for Hindus, the editorial criticised the government for using it for political gain.
“As far as India is concerned, there was a big political atmosphere in the last month of the year regarding the inauguration of Ram Temple. The temple of Bhagwan Ramachandra is being inaugurated in Ayodhya in the first month of the new year. But this ceremony is more entangled in a political event than devotion. Ram temple is being built in Ayodhya; it is definitely a moment of pride and joy for all the Hindus across the country. But it is not right to chant the name of Ram and ignore the concept of Ram Rajya just for the sake of politics,” noted the newspaper editorial.