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Congress, BJP trade charges over ‘temple politics’

Demand for ordinance to build Ram temple sparks war of words

The BJP and the Congress on Monday sparred over the growing clamour from right-wing organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for the Narendra Modi government to bring an ordinance to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram alleged that the Modi government had achieved “nothing” this far and was now resorting to making promises of “building grand temples, statues and doles”.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back, terming Mr. Chidambaram’s comments “utterly irresponsible and provocative”.

‘Failed promises’

“At the beginning of five years, the promise is for development, jobs and money in every citizen’s bank account. Nothing achieved, at the end of five years, the new promise is for grand temples, giant statues and doles,” Mr. Chidamabaram tweeted on Monday.

The Congress leader’s tweet comes a day after Union Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Uma Bharti and Union Minister of State for Law P.P. Chaudhary made a renewed pitch for a Ram temple at Ayodhya and talked about an ordinance to pave the way for the construction.

“Today, we are witnessing a classic hypocrisy in the conduct of Congress. While Rahul Gandhi is visiting temples after temples trying to portray himself as Ram bhakt (devotee) and Shiv bhakt and invoking his Brahmin lineage for the first time, other senior leaders like Mr. Chidambaram have mocked Ram temple and also the Statue of Unity,” Mr. Prasad told presspersons.

‘Provocative tweet’

“Rahul Gandhi, you need to answer how do you respond to this utterly irresponsible and provocative tweet of Chidambaram designed to lower the esteem of Sardar Patel and also the Ram temple movement,” he added.

The Congress also accused the BJP of resorting to “temple politics” ahead of elections.

“For the last 30 years, the BJP has been bringing out Lord Ram, doing his aarti (a ritual during prayers) before every election and then the Lord is sent on exile,” senior Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Yet to reveal stand

The Congress, however, has so far refused to articulate its stand on the issue of an ordinance for the construction of a Ram temple.

At a recent interaction with select journalists in Indore, when asked for his views on the issue, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, “The government is left with no other issue after failing to bring acche din [better days], provide jobs or end corruption.”

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