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Ayodhya temple inauguration sounded death knell for secularism: CPI(M)

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New Delhi: The Ayodhya Ram temple inauguration on January 22 has sounded the "death knell" of secularism defined as the separation of religion from the State, administration and politics, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said Tuesday.

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In a statement issued after a three-day meeting of its Central Committee in Thiruvananthapuram that ended on Tuesday, the Left party said while it respects religious beliefs which are the personal choice of every individual, the January 22 event was held only for political gains.

This also signals the Places of Worship Act, 1991, will now be "put in cold storage", the party said.

"The Temple inauguration at Ayodhya on January 22, 2024, has virtually sounded the death knell of secularism, defined as the separation of religion from the State, administration and politics. The whole programme was a State-sponsored event directly involving the Prime Minister, UP Chief Minister, UP Governor, and the entire state machinery," the CPI(M) Central Committee said in a statement.

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"Both the President and Vice President of India sent congratulatory messages to the Prime Minister variously hailing him as having 'redeemed a pledge', "India's tryst with destiny in its civilizational trajectory" etc. The whole function was a direct violation of the fundamental principle of the governance of India as reiterated by the Supreme Court, which is that the State under the Constitution should have no religious affiliation or preference," the CPI(M) said.

"This was an event directly aimed at political and electoral gains," the statement said.

It said the RSS and BJP mounted a massive nationwide campaign in the run-up to the Ram temple consecration ceremony.

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"Public screenings of the live telecast were organized at various places on giant screens. Educational institutions were closed for the day. All Central government offices were shut till 2.30 pm in order to facilitate the participation of employees," it said.

"It is planned to mobilise people to visit the temple from every state and Parliamentary constituency. This will be spaced out till March 2024, i.e., till the eve of elections," it added.

The Left party said the event also signals that the Places of Worship Act, 1991 -- which mandates that the nature and status of all religious places except Ayodhya will remain the same as it was on August 15, 1947 -- will now be put in cold storage.

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"The disputes in Kashi and Mathura have once again surfaced with a degree of judicial connivance. Modi profusely thanked the Supreme Court for its Ayodhya Verdict," the statement said.

The CPI(M) said its policy has been to respect religious beliefs which are the personal choice of every individual.

"The Party has steadfastly upheld the right of every individual to pursue their faith. But at the same time it has consistently opposed the efforts to misuse and convert people's religious belief as an instrument for political gain and merging religion with the State," the CPI(M) added.

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