LUCKNOW: Sonia Gandhi is the only invitee from Congress’s first family to the January 22 consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya as siblings

Rahul Gandhi


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

ostensibly do not qualify to receive invitations based on the criteria set by the Ram Mandir Teerth Kshetra Trust.
Sources said Sonia was invited by temple construction committee chairperson Nripendra Mishra in her capacity as chief of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

The trust is sending out invitations to three categories of political guests – presidents of the mainstream parties, leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and those who participated in the Ram temple movement between 1984 and 1992.
The special guests for whom the trust is rolling out the red carpet include seers, industrialists, artists and sportspeople.

VHP working president Alok Kumar recently invited Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Since the Lok Sabha hasn’t had an official leader of the opposition since 2014, VHP has sent out an invitation to Congress’s House leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati are to receive their invitations soon, a functionary of the trust said. BJP veterans Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi have already been invited to the ceremony.

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“Lord Ram is for everyone. There will be no discrimination. We have decided to ensure that the ceremony does not have political overtones,” VHP national secretary general Milind Parande told TOI, pointing out that even those who “once challenged the very existence of Ram” would be welcomed.
The VHP leader’s statement came days after several opposition leaders said they would not attend the consecration ceremony, accusing BJP and RSS of wielding religion as a political tool.

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Parande said it was ironic that some parties, including CPI and Trinamool Congress, had refused to be part of the ceremony.
“They are the ones giving a political flavour to the event,” he said. “These people should have supported the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, but they didn’t. Now, they should not feel jealous if those who supported it benefit from the long-awaited Ram temple turning into a reality.”

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On the poster controversy in Bihar involving RJD MLA Fateh Bahadur Singh, VHP working president Alok Kumar said on Tuesday termed it “another attempt to incite communal passions in the country”.
The poster refers to the Ram temple in Ayodhya as a “symbol of mental slavery”.

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