Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday said that she hopes the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on August 5 becomes an occasion to celebrate India’s unity, fraternity and cultural congregation. Her comment is being seen as a shift in the party’s stand on the Ayodhya dispute.
“The Ramayana has a deep and indelible mark on the culture of the world and the Indian subcontinent,” she said in a statement in Hindi. “Since ages, Lord Rama has been the thread connecting the people of India. “Sacrifice, courage and commitment are the essence of Lord Ram.”
“I hope that with the blessings of Lord Ram and Maa Sita, the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram temple becomes an occasion to celebrate India’s unity and culture,” she added.
Senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, meanwhile, organised a ‘Hanuman Chalisa path’ at his residence ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony. According to News18, the Madhya Pradesh Congress has donated 11 silver bricks for the ritual.
The Ram temple trust has invited 175 guests for the foundation stone-laying ceremony. The guests will include 135 spiritual leaders and the residents of the city. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, Governor Anandiben Patel and Mahant Nritya Gopaldas will also be present.
Senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi will reportedly join the ceremony through videoconference amid coronavirus fears. Uma Bharti had on Monday said that she will go to to Ayodhya but skip the ceremony due to health risks. On Monday, the head priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya had gone into self-quarantine after one of his assistants tested positive for the coronavirus. Last month, the temple’s assistant priest, along with 16 police officers had tested positive for the infection.
At the ceremony, Modi will install a silver brick as the temple’s foundation stone. The Uttar Pradesh government will also release a postal stamp to commemorate the temple design.