The Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya was inaugurated on Monday in a ceremony led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The prime minister performed the rituals to consecrate the Ram idol in the sanctum sanctorum along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister Adityanath and the chief priest of the temple.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindutva organisation, is the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The temple, which is still under construction, is being built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,800 crore over 2.77 acres of land. The BJP governments at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh have also earmarked Rs 30,000 crore for a series of development projects across Ayodhya, including the widening of roads, the construction of ghats, a new drainage system and an airport.

The Ram temple is being built on the site of the Babri mosque, which was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on the spot on which the deity Ram had been born. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.

In November 2019, the Supreme Court held that the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 was illegal, but handed over the land to a trust for a Ram temple to be constructed. At the same time, it directed that a five-acre plot in Ayodhya be allotted to Muslims for a mosque to be constructed.

Several Central government establishments across the country were closed on Monday to mark the consecration of the temple, as were many private offices and educational establishments.

Ahead of the ceremony, all four shankaracharyas – pontiffs of major Hindu shrines – had announced that they would not attend the consecration of the temple.

The heads of the Puri and Joshimath shrines had said that they would not attend the inauguration because religious scriptures are not being adhered to at the event. The Puri shankaracharya had also alleged that the event was being politicised. The shankaracharyas of Dwarka and Sringeri had not stated their reasons for skipping the ceremony.

Several Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have also skipped the event.

The Opposition parties have alleged that the religious event is being politicised by the BJP to seek electoral gains ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

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