Playing with fire: Congress bigwigs Kharge, Sonia, Chaudhary will not attend Ram Temple opening

Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. At the same time taking no stand in itself is a stand. The Congress party must have learnt this lesson from what can be called as a speechless wonder the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. He chose to speak little on the burning Ram Temple issue on the run up to the December 6, 1992. He actually spoke after the demolition of Babri Masjid was over by that evening. Thus, his critics then, even within his party, in private charged that he by his inaction approved the razing down of the mosque.

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Contrary to this the Congress brass comprising national president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party boss Sonia Gandhi and leader of party in Lok Sabha Adheer Ranjan Chaudhary succumbed to the pressure from some hard-core secular journalists and academics and on January 10 politely refused to attend the January 22 consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The fact is that many within the Grand Old Party disagree with the stand taken by the central leadership of the party. In such a situation what was the hurry in announcing its decision full 12 days ahead and provide the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party enough ammunition to fire. If some party bigwigs really wanted to go, he or she should have been—without making any pre-announcement–allowed to attend the ceremony. Or if the party’s trio of Kharge, Gandhi and Chaudhary did not want to participate in this religious gathering it should have been done without any fuss.

Congress party’s dilemma

In between these 12 days the party big shots, while confronting the question from the mediapersons, should have either remained silent or evaded their posers. The situation could have been handled in a better way. It can still be dealt with maturely as there are many chinks in the BJP’s armour.

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The problem with the Congress and its allies is that they are not only under constant attack from the heavily pro-establishment media, but also from the friendly public opinion makers as there is a general trend in the secular camp to criticize all the policies and strategies of the 138-years old party and its allies and over-estimate the strength of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Some of them have recently criticized the opposition for being confused on the invitation extended to them for the Ram Temple inauguration on January 22 and not openly declining to accept it.

These set of scribes need to understand that it is very easy to come up with an article in a newspaper or news-portal than lead a political party in such a polarized atmosphere. Taking a drastic decision on such a
sensitive issue was not an easy job.

The truth is that the official stand of the top Congress leadership till January 10 was making some sense. It was made amply clear that this is the issue of faith and the party does not want to politicize it as the BJP is doing.

After all, on January 7 the Uttar Pradesh unit chief of the Congress party, Ajay Rai, had made it public that about 100 office-bearers would pay a visit to Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on January 15, that is on Makar Sankranti day, and take a holy dip in Saryu River.

Confusion in BJP Camp

So, if the Congress and some other regional opposition parties were silent or even if indecisive as was being alleged and not coming out openly on the issue of going to Ayodhya it was creating a lot of problem for the entire Sangh Parivar. The war-machine of the latter was finding it difficult to launch a full-scale attack on the Congress and its allies when they had not taken any decision on this count.

Instead, the latter would have been in a better position to flay the saffron camp for politicizing a religious event and inaugurating the Ram Temple just ahead of the Lok Sabha poll when the construction work has not been completed.

Now the situation is not the same. The Congress party will have to work overtime to counter the BJP’s propaganda that by not taking part in this holy event the Congress party had hurt the sentiment of crores of Hindus across the world.

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