Ayodhya Ram temple inauguration: State’s participation against constitutional morality

According to a memo issued by the Government of India, all Union government offices, institutions and industrial establishments will be closed for half-day till 2.30 pm on January 22.
 Ram temple in Ayodhya
Ram temple in Ayodhya
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The Union government wants all roads to lead to Ayodhya on January 22, when the inauguration of the Ram temple takes place. Several states have declared a public holiday and central government offices will remain closed for half-day on January 22. According to a memo issued by the Government of India, all offices, institutions and industrial establishments under the Union government throughout the country will be closed for half-day till 2.30 pm on January 22. Public sector banks,insurance companies, regional rural banks and other government financial institutions will also be closed. 

In addition to it, several states have declared a public holiday to commemorate the event. While states like Tripura, Odisha, Rajasthan and Gujarat will observe a half-day holiday, the state governments in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Chattisgarh have declared a holiday for schools and colleges. Liquor outlets and meat shops will remain closed in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.

Speaking to TNM, Shiva Sundar, an activist and a columnist, said that the state should not be favouring, promoting or discriminating against any particular religion. “However, at present, the exact opposite is happening in India, and the Prime Minister is a part of it. Why doesn’t the government extend the same benefit for other religions? In fact, the event does not even cater to all Hindus. Ram Janmabhoomi Trust secretary Champat Rai clearly stated the Ram temple belongs to devotees belonging to the Ramanandi sect and not to the other Hindus. The consecration ceremony is essentially to implement the idea of Savarkar. The construction is nothing but establishing Manusmriti and the larger project of Hindu Rashtra. Such a thing is happening even though Dr BR Ambedkar has given a written reply about the importance of upholding constitutional morality,” he added.   

The letter he refers to was written by Dr BR Ambedkar while replying to a statement from freedom fighter Maulana Hasrat Mohani in 1948, in which he stated that most of the Constitution was “borrowed” from the Government of India Act, 1935, passed by the British Parliament. According to Ambedkar, the Constitution was a pedagogical tool to teach democratic values to the Indian population which was undemocratic. He said the inclusion of administrative details was necessary for a population that is yet to learn constitutional morality.

Also read: As the republic turns 73, Ambedkar reduced to his statutes?

Former state public prosecutor and lawyer BT Venkatesh said that the inauguration was a political event and should not be confused with religion. “As per the Constitution, every person has the right to propagate religion. But the question is whether governments should take part in a religious ceremony. In the 1950s, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had written to the then President Rajendra Prasad to express his displeasure (of people holding Constitutional positions attending religious events),” he said.

Commenting on the ceremony on January 22, Sudha Ramalingam, advocate and human rights activist, stated that the million dollar question is whether a brute majority, which is the Hindu population, can oppress the rest of the country and especially the minorities,  in this case the Muslims. She said, “There is nothing illegal about the construction and consecration of the temple. However, the letter of the law is different from the spirit of the law. The temple is being built on a place where a mosque (Babri Masjid) once stood. It is the duty of the ruling party to see that everyone is happy, not just the majority. There is a revival of right-wing ideology all around the world and people are being brain-washed.”    

Also read: How Rajiv Gandhi fell for bad advice to open Babri Masjid locks in 1986 

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra on January 17 wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud seeking a judicial holiday for all courts so that the members of the legal fraternity and court staff could celebrate the consecration ceremony. The letter reads, “This event holds immense religious, historical, and cultural significance for millions of people across the country, marking the realisation of a long-awaited dream and the culmination of legal proceedings that have been pivotal in defining the nation's structure.” 

Shiva Sundar said that the letter was written in such a way that it indicates the decline in the cultural ethos and politics of the country.

Opposition parties such as Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), Congress, and Samajwadi Party had earlier declined the invitation to attend the event. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had said that the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya was politicisation of religion. 

Also read: Politicisation of religion: Yechury on not attending Ayodhya temple inauguration

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