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As BJP celebrates Ram Temple consecration, Left and Cong criticise state role in it

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 22 (PTI) The BJP's nationwide celebration of the consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya faced criticism from the ruling Left and opposition Congress in Kerala on Monday, with both parties slamming the saffron party for allegedly turning the religious ceremony into a state-sponsored event.

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While the Left in Kerala criticised the government role in the event and said that the line demarcating religion and state was "getting thinner and thinner", the Congress accused the BJP-ruled Centre of combining religion and politics for electoral gains.

Meanwhile, celebrations were held in temples connected with Ramayana across the southern state.

Encouraged by the extensive public participation in the ceremony across the state, Prakash Javadekar, the senior BJP leader and party's Kerala in-charge, expressed satisfaction at the significant involvement of major organizations such as SNDP Yogam, representing the numerically strong Ezhava community, and the Nair Service Society (NSS), representing the influential Nair community in the programme.

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The Nair organisation said it was of the view that people of any faith can participate in the consecration ceremony.

The NSS, in a statement, also said that it celebrated the occasion by lighting a lamp, offering flowers to a picture of Lord Ram and chanting the name of the deity.

It further said that celebrations were organised at various places in the southern state under the leadership of Hindu organizations.

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The NSS had also said, about a couple of weeks ago, that boycotting the consecration ceremony on political grounds was "irreverence towards God".

Earlier in the day, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the consecration of the Ram Temple, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a message said that a time has come when the inauguration of a religious place of worship in the country was being celebrated as a state event.

"This is a major departure from the times when our constitutional office bearers have been cautioned from taking part in religious events, as it would cast aspersions on our credentials as a secular state," he said.

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The CM also said India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had often opined that Indian secularism means the separation of religion and state.

"We even have a strong tradition of maintaining that separation. However, of late, the line that demarcates religion and state seems to be getting thinner and thinner," he said.

Subsequently, Congressman and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan said that conflating faith with politics to target electoral gain was to question the very essence of the Constitution and the democracy.

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He contended that the Sangh Parivar has no directional politics to speak of.

Satheesan also said that their Ram was the one in the words uttered by Mahatma Gandhi when he was assassinated.

Hymns, verses and songs about Lord Ram reverberated in temples, including the Triprayar Sree Ramaswamy temple in Thrissur district that was visited by Modi recently, across the state on the occasion of Ram Temple consecration at Ayodhya.

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Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan offered prayers at the Ramadevi Temple in Vazhuthacaud in the state capital, while BJP state president K Surendran paid tribute at the Sree Ramaswamy Temple at Ramapuram in Kottayam district.

The BJP-led NDA celebrated the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya with grand festivities in Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, represented by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Javadekar, along with NDA state convenor Thushar Vellappally and their workers, watched the live telecast of the ceremony from the Lord Ganesh temple at Sultan Bathery in the hill district.

Vellappally, the NDA candidate in Wayanad during the 2019 election, is the vice president of SNDP Yogam and the chief of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), an ally of the BJP in Kerala.

His father, Vellappally Natesan, is the general secretary of SNDP Yogam.

Javadekar claimed that the increased participation of people in Wayanad was a response to Gandhi and his party, who declined the invitation to the Ayodhya ceremony.

"Rahul Gandhi's party leaders rejected the invitation, but the people of his constituency visited temples to watch the live ceremony of the Ram Temple consecration," he told PTI. PTI HMP HMP ROH

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