Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said he was not surprised by Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s statement about the Ram temple in Ayodhya, as the party had always peddled the ideology of “soft-Hindutva” at the expense of secularism, NDTV reported. Gandhi had said the foundation-laying ceremony of the temple was a celebration of “national unity, fraternity and cultural affinity”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday laid a symbolic 40-kg silver brick to formally launch the construction of the Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya city, 28 years after the demolition of Babri Masjid at the same site.

At a press conference, Vijayan said everyone was familiar with the stand adopted by the Congress on the Ram temple matter. “I am not surprised at Priyanka Gandhi’s statement,” Vijayan told reporters.
“If the Congress had a clear concept of secularism, this situation wouldn’t have risen for India.”

The chief minister said that soft Hindutva is what Congress had “always followed”. “When Sangh Parivar [right-wing] activists charged towards the Babri Masjid to demolish it, who turned a blind eye towards it and remained indifferent?” he asked.

Vijayan added that whatever ensued after “is the culmination of this approach,” The Indian Express reported. “The approaches of [former Prime Ministers] Rajiv Gandhi and [PV] Narasimha Rao are part of history,” he added. “...I don’t find anything new in the approach of Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi.”

When asked about his party’s position on the matter, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said he had already made that clear. “I don’t need to repeat that,” Vijayan said. “Our country has crossed 19 lakh cases of Covid-19. We should think about how to overcome this. There are people who have been pushed to poverty because of the crisis...other things can be seen later”.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi also criticised the Congress and said that the party was equally responsible for the demolition of the 16th-century Babri Mosque. He criticised other “secular parties” and claimed they had been completely exposed.

Several politicians across party lines welcomed the temple’s construction. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the deity Ram “can never appear in hate”. Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal congratulated the people of the country and said that the deity’s blessings “will get rid of hunger, illiteracy and poverty” and that India would become the most powerful nation in the world.

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