With just three days to for the ground-breaking ceremony or “bhoomi pujan” of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5, uncertainty loomed over the participation of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi — the two architects of temple movement — in the “bhoomi pujan” as invitations had not reached them till late on Saturday.
Around 200 important people figure in the list of invitees prepared by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust headed by Mahant Nrityagopal Das. BJP leader Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, who played a key role in the Ram temple movement, have already been invited for the bhoomi pujan ceremony.
A senior BJP leader who himself is not to attend the ceremony maintained that though Advani ji and Joshi ji are in the list of invitees “it is for them to decide whether to visit during pandemic for health reasons.”
However, according to sources, Advani is “unhappy” over not receiving a formal invite for attending the ceremony with time running out for the invite. Advani and Joshi were not contactable for comments.
“An invite over the phone could be another possibility”, sources said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders maintain that it is the trust and not they who decided the list. “We do not have the idea as who appears in the 200 guest list”. VHP vice-president Champat Rai is, though, a member of the Trust.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the high-profile leaders who are expected to attend the event. Modi is likely to reach Ayodhya at around 11 am on August 5 and to stay there for three hours.
Interestingly, Modi, 69, Advani, 96, Joshi, 86 cannot attend “bhoomi pujan” if Union Health Ministry’s guideline is to be followed in its letter and spirit as all these leaders are above the age of 65. Kalyan Singh, 88, another invitee, also cannot be physically present during the ceremony as per the health guidelines.
According to the standard operating procedures issued by the Health Ministry for religious places, people above 65 years of age are advised to stay at home and not to participate in any religious congregation.
“People above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. Organisations managing the religious institutions to advise accordingly,” it says categorically.
Union Home Ministry’s latest guidelines for Unlock 3.0 also advises people above 65 years of age to stay at home.
Several senior saints, invited to the ceremony, thus, are also automatically disqualified to attend the ceremony as they are above the cut-off age of 65.
The pandemic has forced the trust to prune the list of invitees to avoid the site of brick-laying getting crowded.
Sunday, 02 August 2020 | PNS | New Delhi