No Advani or Joshi at Ram temple site?

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on August 03, 2020 Published on August 03, 2020

Flags with pictures of Lord Ram printed on them are seen at Sadar market in Old Delhi, ahead of the event on August 5   -  -PTI

VHP leader cites age factor; Covid shadow looms over inauguration of construction

The shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic hangs over Ramjanmabhoomi site in Ayodhya where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Ram temple construction at 12.12 pm on Tuesday. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath surveyed the site where 200 security personnel and priests have been tested for Covid-19.

Of those tested, 16 security personnel and a priest, Pradeep Das, tested positive last week. The chief priest at the Ram Lalla precincts Tapendra Das has been kept in isolation at a time when invites for the inauguration ceremony have been sent to 150 guests. A statement issued from the office of the District Magistrate, Ayodhya Anuj Kumar Jha said that a lot of media personnel at the site were not wearing masks, neither were they observing social distancing norms. “We cannot deny the possibility that the pandemic may spread under such circumstances,” said the statement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in the event along with Adityanath, UP Governor Anandiben Patel, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and 150 other invitees who do not reportedly include the original leaders of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement — senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati.


“We would have liked the devotees of Lord Ram to participate in huge numbers. But it is not possible to have a very large gathering during the current pandemic,” read a statement issued on behalf of Shri Ramjanmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra by the VHP leader Champat Rai.

Rai said the number of invitees at the inauguration is restricted during the Covid-19 pandemic and “age factor” has been considered in inviting senior leaders such as Advani, Joshi and Kalyan Singh.

“How will Advaniji come at such a time? We have spoken to Advaniji and Joshiji on the phone. In any case, this is only a symbolic foundation-laying ceremony. The foundation of Ram temple has already been laid,” said Rai.

Bigger Hindu identity

Besides marking a year of the abrogation of Article 370, another core ideological foundation of the BJP besides the Ram temple construction and ushering in Uniform Civil Code, the mega event in Ayodhya also aims to present the RSS’s vision of a bigger Hindu identity.

RSS volunteers, especially the active members of the VHP, have collected earth and water from places of spiritual significance among the Scheduled Castes such as the birthplace of Sant Ravidas and Dr Ambedkar’s birthplace Mhow in Indore. Simultaneously, towards the goal of expanding the Hindu identity, symbolic representation in terms of earth and water has been sought from places of religious importance to Jains, Buddhists and the Sikhs such as the martyrdom site of Guru Teg Bahadur in Chandni Chowk’s Gurudwara Sis Ganj.

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Published on August 03, 2020
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