Congress stance on faith: personal matter

While acknowledging the widespread worship of Lord Ram and reiterating its respect for the temple’s judicial approval, “Religion is a personal matter,” the Congress stated.
While acknowledging the widespread worship of Lord Ram and reiterating its respect for the temple’s judicial approval, “Religion is a personal matter,” the Congress stated.

Summary

  • The party’s rejection of an invitation for its leaders to the Ram temple inauguration in Ayodhya might be based on a calculation of what it can gain versus what it may lose.

The opposition Congress party has often seemed internally conflicted about the issue that led the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) ascent to political dominance in India over the span of a quarter century: a Ram temple in Ayodhya on a site that once had a mosque. On Wednesday, however, it caught fans and foes alike by surprise with its clarity on why its leaders Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have “respectfully declined" an invitation to attend the temple’s inauguration on 22 January. 

While acknowledging the widespread worship of Lord Ram and reiterating its respect for the temple’s judicial approval, “Religion is a personal matter," the Congress stated. The BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it added, “have long made a political project" of it, accusing them of opening the temple ahead of completion “for electoral gain." 

This response isn’t short of risk, given how the BJP will likely spin it. The grand old party, though, might have calculated that it has no further votes to lose on the temple issue at this stage, while the optics of its co-option, as its attendance may convey, could yet hurt it. It is arguably a rational bet.

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