Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Uma Bharti on Monday said that she will travel to Ayodhya but not attend the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple on August 5 because of the risk of catching the coronavirus. Her announcement came a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh tested positive for the infection.
“I am worried about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other people who have to attend the groundbreaking ceremony after coming to know that Amit Shah and several BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh have tested positive for the coronavirus,” Bharti wrote on Twitter. “I will leave Bhopal today [Monday]. I may come into contact with an infected person by the time I reach Ayodhya tomorrow [Tuesday] evening.”
“In this situation, I will stay away from the spot where Narendra Modi and hundreds of other people will be present for the ground-breaking ceremony,” she added. “I will pay obeisance to Lord Ram when everyone else will leave spot. I have informed officials of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and the Prime Minister’s Office about my decision and have asked for my name to taken off the list of people attending the ceremony.”
Bharti, who was accused of conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case, had on Friday said that she will attend the ceremony on August 5. Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, also facing charges in the case, had also been invited for the event.
On August 5, Modi will install a silver brick at the site where the temple is supposed to be built. Tight security arrangements have put in place Ayodhya. The local administration will also implement strict coronavirus safety measures. The number of guests have been cut to 50, according to NDTV.
A priest and 16 police officers on duty in the city had tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
A landmark Supreme Court verdict in November had paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The court had ruled that the disputed land in Ayodhya would be handed over to a government-run trust for the construction of a Ram temple. The court had also said that the demolition of Babri Masjid was illegal and directed the government to acquire an alternative plot of land to build a mosque.