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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Completely political Narendra Modi function: Rahul Gandhi on January 22 Ayodhya event

'It is difficult for us to go to a political function which is designed around the Prime Minister of India and designed around the RSS'

Umanand Jaiswal Kohima Published 17.01.24, 05:22 AM
Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Nagaland on Tuesday.

Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Nagaland on Tuesday. PTI picture.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday did not mince words while explaining why the Congress brass was not attending the January 22 Ram temple consecration ceremony, asserting that the BJP-RSS had made it a “completely political Narendra Modi function”.

Rahul alleged that the event had “become an RSS-BJP function” with “election flavour” — a reason why Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had turned down the invite.

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Addressing a media meeting 28km from Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, on the third day of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra (BJNY), Rahul sounded bullish about the future of the Opposition INDIA formation. He hoped that issues would be resolved and that “we will fight the BJP together and defeat the BJP”.

Taking questions on the temple consecration and why the Congress leadership had turned down the invite, Rahul said: “We are open to all religions, all practices. Even the authorities of the Hindu religion, the biggest authorities (a possible reference to the Shankaracharyas) of the Hindu religion have made their view public about what they think about the January 22 function, that it is a political function.”

“So, it is difficult for us to go to a political function which is designed around the Prime Minister of India and designed around the RSS,” Rahul said.

Rahul added: “We have made it clear that whosoever would like to visit the Ram temple among our partners, among our parties, can go. But we cannot become party to a political function...”

Asserting that he “does not wear his religion on his shirt” and that he does not want to profit from his religion, Rahul said he would be with the Yatra in Assam on January 22, the day of the consecration in Ayodhya, and that the route of the Yatra was fixed.

The BJP has made the Congress leaders’ stand on not attending the temple inauguration a political issue and there is reportedly some disquiet within the Congress too.

Asserting that the “status of the INDIA alliance is very good”, Rahul said: “We are in conversation with our partners. The issue of seat-sharing is being taken up. I think they are going quite well.”

“But broadly, a lot of those are quite simple. They are not complex discussions and they are relatively easy discussions to have. So, I am quite confident that they will be resolved,” the Congress leader said.

On media reports on the INDIA meetings, Rahul said there was a “lot of mutual respect and affection” among the leaders of the bloc, which is an “ideological formation placing itself in opposition” to the idea of the RSS and the BJP.

“We are confident all issues will be resolved. We will fight the BJP together and we will defeat them,” Rahul said.

Dwelling on the delay in the resolution of the Indo-Naga political problem, he said: “I have been speaking to quite a few Naga leaders and they are perplexed as to why no progress has been made. We are not even clear about what the Prime Minister envisioned in terms of a solution. It’s a superficial document...”

Rahul was referring to the Framework Agreement between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre in 2015.

“It’s not clear what exactly they mean.. that they would work towards peace and joint sovereignty. Clearly, there is a problem that needs resolution and that is a problem that will require conversation, listening to each other and working on implementing a solution. That is lacking as far as the PM is concerned,” Rahul said.

“I do make the sense that the PM promises things without thinking them through. I get this sense that people are disturbed that the Prime Minister’s credibility is on the line and nothing has happened for nine years. We are committed to a solution to the problem,” he said.

The third day of the Manipur-to-Mumbai Yatra saw Rahul pay homage at the Kohima War Cemetery and address two rousing roadside meetings besides interacting with the public. The Yatra stopped for the night at Chukitong in Wokha district after making a journey of about 105km during the day.

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