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‘Jai Shri Ram’ Isn’t Someone’s Property: What Opposition Leaders Said on the Ram Mandir Event

Pinarayi Vijayan cited the constitution, saying that all individuals have an equal right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion, while Mamata Banerjee labeled the saffron party as 'anti-women'. Siddaramaiah said, 'We worship Mahatma Gandhi's Ram, not BJP's Ram.'
Ram temple in Ayodhya. Photo: Screenshot from DD News broadcast.

New Delhi: Some opposition leaders responded strongly to the inauguration of the Ram Temple, on January 22 (Monday), expressing concerns over the blurring lines between religion and politics.

In a video statement, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said religion is a private affair and that the constitution has minced no words in stating that all persons are equally entitled to the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.

“Secularism is the soul of the country. It has been part of our identity as a nation right from the days of our national movement. Those belonging to different states and those not part of any religion had taken part in the freedom struggle. This nation belongs to all people and all sections of Indian society in equal measure. As those who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, we ought to ensure that every person within our territories enjoys these rights. We cannot be promoting one religion above all others,” Vijayan said.

“This is a major departure from our times when our constitutional office bearers have been cautious from taking part in religious events as it would cast aspersions on our credentials as a secular state. Now we have come to a point in time, when the inauguration of a religious place of worship in the country is being celebrated as a state event. Most of us have been invited to participate in the rituals by the trust in charge of it. As those who have pledged to preserve and protect our constitution, let us reaffirm our commitment to its secular character by declining to participate in the event upholding our constitutional responsibility,” he said.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said there’s a need to fight the ‘anti-Hindu’ image the BJP is building about him, Deccan Herald reported.

“We worship Mahatma Gandhi’s Ram, not BJP’s Ram,” he said. “For Gandhi, it was Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. His last words were Hey Ram.”

“Many people say Siddaramaiah is an atheist. I’m a believer. I have Rama in my name. I am Siddarama. I am Siddaramaiah,” the chief minister said. “I never opposed the existence of God.”

Siddaramaiah even chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and made the crowd say it aloud. “This slogan isn’t someone’s property,” he said.

“The entire nation worships Sri Ramachandra. In my village, I funded the construction of a Ram temple,” Siddaramaiah said, recalling how he used to participate in bhajans at his village during Dhanurmasa.

“But no God wants to be loved excessively. Basavanna said there’s God within us. That’s why he said that body is the temple,” he said, adding that God won’t be pleased if worship is ‘melodramatic’.

Siddaramaiah said all religions want good for humanity.

“Everyone, including Gandhi, spoke of Ram Rajya. It is what Kuvempu said – a garden of peace for all of humanity. That’s why the Constitution speaks of co-existence and harmony. We must live with humanity without hating each other,” he said.

Separately, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that the saffron party is ‘anti-women’.

“They (BJP) talk about Lord Ram, but what about Goddess Sita? She was all along with Lord Ram during his exile. They don’t speak about her as they are anti-women. We are worshippers of Goddess Durga, so they should not try to lecture us about religion,” the Trinamool Congress chief said at the all-faith rally in Kolkata.

“I don’t believe in politicising religion ahead of elections. I am against such practice. I have no objection against those worshipping Lord Ram, but object to interference with the food habits of people,” Hindustan Times reported her as saying.

Banerjee had declined the invitation to the ‘Pran Pratishta‘ ceremony, saying, “It is not our (politicians) job to do ‘pran pratishtha‘. It is the job of the priests. Our job is to create infrastructure.”

On Sunday, the TMC chief clarified that the all-faith rally is not to counter anyone.

“I am not doing this to counter anyone or protest anything. I have already said religion belongs to individuals but festivals are for all. On January 22, I will first offer prayers to Maa Kali and then lead the rally. It will touch temples, mosques, gurdwaras and churches along its route before reaching Park Circus where a meeting will be held,” she told the media.

Also read: Malayalam Actors, Directors Share Constitution Preamble on Ram Temple Inauguration Day

The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) state president Panakkad Syed Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal said the BJP is misusing Lord Ram for political gains, the New Indian Express reported.

“The IUML is not against Ram Temple, but the party is exposing the political game played by the BJP. Those who are ruling the party are spreading hatred and are using Ram temple for the purpose,” Thangal said, while inaugurating the Maha Rally organised by the Muslim Youth League in Kozhikode on Sunday.

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