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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 18:27 IST

Ram Mandir inauguration: Kerala ally Jem-iyyathul Ulama asks Congress to clear stand

In a recent editorial, it expressed strong opposition against Congress' position regarding the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at the Ram Temple.

Reported by: Moumita Mukherjee
Congress in dilemma over Ram Mandir inauguration
Congress in dilemma over Ram Mandir inauguration | Image:Republic
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The grand inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya has ignited a wave of unease and perplexity among several opposition political parties within the INDI bloc. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has already declared its decision to abstain from the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, scheduled for January 22, 2024. The top CPI(M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat have declined the invitation to attend the 'Pran Pratishtha' ceremony citing 'politicisation of religious beliefs' as the main reason. However, amidst the invitations extended to Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for the January 22 consecration ceremony, Congress is yet to confirm its attendance. 

Congress still being undecided regarding their participation at the mega Ram Mandir inauguration event has irked the Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama (All Kerala Ulama Organization). Known as Samastha, this is an association of eminent Sunni scholars. In a recent editorial published in its mouthpiece Suprabhaatham, the Samastha expressed strong opposition against the Congress party's position regarding the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at the Ram Temple. The editorial directly contradicted the Congress stance on this matter. Additionally, the Sunni EK faction issued a stern warning, highlighting potential significant repercussions if the Congress fails to clarify its stance on the issue. Samastha is the backbone of Congress ally IUML in Kerala.

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Why is Congress in dilemma?

Reportedly, the stand of some of its allies such as Muslim League and CPI(M) refusing to attend the January 22 ceremony is Ayodhya has created more trouble for Congress. Moreover, another INDI bloc ally, the TMC leadership has indicated at a possible absence of West Bengal Chief Minsiter and party supremo Mamata Banerjee at the Ram Mandir inauguration calling the event a ‘political agenda’ of BJP. “Our policy is to respect religious beliefs and the right of each individual to pursue their belief. Religion is a personal choice not to be converted into an instrument for political gain. Comrade Sitaram Yechury will not attend the ceremony despite receiving an invitation to do so,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said in a post on X.

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Hitting out at CPI(M), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)’s national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “Those whose name is Sitaram will not go to Ayodhya Dham.” Taking to X, in a post in Hindi, Bansal said, “There are reports that… The person whose name is Sitaram will not go to Ayodhya Dham!! Political opposition is understandable, but if someone has so much hatred for his own name, he can only be a communist! Whether the hatred is towards Ram or towards one’s name, it has to be told…!!” The BJP also lambasted the CPI(M) with Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi, saying, “… invitations were sent to all (but) only those called by Lord Ram will come”.

‘Minorities may seek alternative political options’

As the invitation for the ceremony arrived, both CPM and CPI promptly declined participation, making their stance clear. However, the national leadership of the Congress party has refrained from making an official statement regarding their position on the matter. This indecision has drawn criticism from Samastha, suggesting a dissatisfaction with the lack of a clear stand from the Congress. This warning seemingly implies a caution to the Congress, hinting that if minorities feel unheard or unsupported, they might begin exploring alternative political avenues leaving the side of Congress ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Within Samastha, a segment is currently scrutinising the recent mouthpiece editorial to ascertain whether it aligns with a pro-CPM standpoint regarding the Ram Mandir inauguration. This internal evaluation hints at potential rifts within the organisation, particularly between the EK (after late E.K. Aboobacker Musliar) and Sunni factions. The ongoing rift within Samastha could potentially disrupt the established vote bank of the Congress-led UDF, signaling a potential crack in its support base ahead of the crucial next year elections. 

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As anticipation grows for the Congress party's decision on participating in the upcoming Prana Pratishtha ceremony on the mega inauguration day next year, the party leadership faces mounting pressure to provide a clear position on the matter. Meanwhile, the Muslim League leadership has maintained a reserved stance, refraining from direct opposition to the Congress national leadership. Their only statement reiterated expectations for the Congress to take a definitive stand. 

The Samastha mouthpiece editorial not only criticised the Congress but also served as a subtle swipe at the Muslim League, a vital component of the UDF coalition. 
 

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Published December 28th, 2023 at 19:56 IST

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