Assam: Batadrawa Than asks Rahul Gandhi not to visit during Ram temple consecration ceremony

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Guwahati, Jan 21 (PTI) The managing committee of the Batadrawa Than in Assam's Nagaon district has asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to visit the place after 3 pm on Monday and not during the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

The Batadrawa Than is located at the birthplace of Assamese icon Srimanta Sankardeva, a social-religious reformer of the 15th-16th century.

In a letter to Batadrawa's Congress MLA Shibamoni Bora on Sunday afternoon, the managing committee's president Jogendra Nath Dev Mahanta said that on the occasion of the Ram temple's consecration, several organisations have planned devotional programmes at the premises of the Than.

"Several thousands of people are expected to visit the place and as such we cannot allow Gandhi to enter the premises before 3 pm," he said.

"We had received a letter from Bora regarding the Congress MP's visit and we extend a warm welcome to him but we cannot allow him to enter the premises before 3 pm," he said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the committee, he added.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said Gandhi should avoid visiting Batadrawa on January 22 as there can be no competition between Lord Ram and the medieval-age Vaishnav saint.

"We will request Rahul Gandhi not to visit Batadrawa on Monday during the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple as it will reflect Assam in the wrong light," he said at a press conference.

He can go after the consecration ceremony without creating "unnecessary competition which will be sad for Assam", Sarma said.

The chief minister said that he is pained to know that when PM Narendra Modi will participate in the consecration ceremony at Ayodhya, Gandhi will be at the Batadrawa sattra.

"This is a wrong projection. There is no competition between Ram and Sankardeva and when the nation's focus is on Ayodhya, it should not be unnecessarily diverted to Assam. We will be grateful if he avoids going to the Sattra during the Pran Pratistha of the Ram temple," he said.

The visit can be rescheduled to early morning or in the evening, he said.

Reacting to Sarma's statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had said that Gandhi would visit the Than as planned, maintaining that no politics should be done over it. PTI DG SOM