New Delhi: A Congress functionary in Madhya Pradesh has claimed that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi fulfilled the idea of Ram Rajya as he got the locks of Ram Janmabhoomi site opened in 1986 to give the devotees an opportunity to get a glimpse of Ram Lalla, and also allowed the foundation stone-laying ceremony in Ayodhya in 1989.
Govind Goyal, the Congress functionary, made the claims in an advertisement in local newspapers of Madhya Pradesh on Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
“Rajiv had fulfilled the idea of Ram Rajya… He was also influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Ram Rajya,” the ad said. It added that it was because of Gandhi’s efforts that the telecast of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan started on Doordarshan in 1985.
“In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi after persuading the then chief minister Vir Bahadur Singh got the locks of Ram Janmabhoomi opened and provided an opportunity to the Ram bhakts to get a glimpse of Ram Lalla,” read the Hindi ad.
It also said permission for laying the foundation stone of the Ram Temple in 1989 was also given by Gandhi. “He also sent then home minister Buta Singh to participate in the foundation stone ceremony. During his last press conference in Chennai, Rajiv Gandhi had said that Ram Temple will be built in Ayodhya itself,” it said.
Speaking to ThePrint about the ad, Goyal said, “I am a Hindu, I pray every day to Ram but I never sell Ram like others do. Had Rajiv Gandhi not opened the locks that day, we wouldn’t have got Ram Mandir today. This is my personal advertisement and everyone has a right to express themselves.”
राजीव गांधी के जन्मदिन
" सद्भावना दिवस "
आओ हम सब एक रहें नेक रहें … pic.twitter.com/u1G0J1DvYw
— Govind Goyal (@GovindGoyal_) August 20, 2020
The election angle
The move came ahead of the crucial bypolls to 25 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, for which the party has been accused of adopting soft Hindutva.
Earlier this month, the party celebrated the ground-breaking ceremony of Ram Temple at the state Congress office. At the same time, former chief minister Kamal Nath organised a religious ceremony that included reciting Hanuman Chalisa at his home.
While the party acknowledged that some of the claims made in Goyal’s ad were true, it sought to distance itself from it.
MP Congress president’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja said, “Though he advertised this in his personal capacity, some of the things that have been said are factual, including that Rajiv Gandhi ji imagined the idea of Ram Rajya and got the locks of the Ram Janmabhoomi opened. This has even been accepted by senior BJP leaders like L.K. Advani and Subramanian Swamy.”
Saluja added, “But there are some other facts that have been included and are not correct and not endorsed by the party.”
Speaking to reporters in Bhopal, Senior Congress leader Jitu Patwari said, “Today is the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi ji. Ram Rajya was conceptualised by Rajiv ji, Mahatma Gandhi. The main purpose of this was that the future generation should get Ram Rajya. The BJP has a negative approach to everything.”
However, the BJP was quick to react.
“This is the irony that by issuing an advertisement they have to say that Ram is ours. Why do they have to issue an advertisement? We never had to give any advertisement. The fact they have issued an advertisement shows the intent is not right,” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra told reporters.
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