LK Advani, MM Joshi to attend Ayodhya ceremony via videoconferencing
Ahead of the August 5 ground-breaking ceremony for a temple at the once-disputed site in Ayodhya, two veteran leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are reportedly going to skip the in-person event. Instead, the two leaders—LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi—will participate in the ceremony via videoconferencing. The highly-anticipated event marks the beginning of the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Advani, Joshi invited via phone call
Advani and Joshi will attend the August 5 ceremony via videoconferencing, sources told NDTV. They had been invited via phone calls on Saturday. Reportedly, the General Secretary of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust is also sending invitations to the two leaders. The ceremony will involve the setting of a 40 kg silver brick as the foundation stone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh also invited
Former Union Minister Uma Bharti and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh have also been invited. A temple trustee told NDTV that top leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—the BJP's ideological parent—including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, General Secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi are also being invited. VHP's working president Alok Kumar is reportedly said to have been invited.
Guest list for ceremony slashed to 50
The guest list for the ceremony has been reduced to 50 VIPs owing to the restrictions imposed on travel and religious gatherings in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Notably, the restrictions advise against people aged above 65 to visit religious places/places of worship.
SC paved way for temple in landmark ruling last year
In November 2019, the Supreme Court paved the way for the construction of Ram temple at the 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya. The site is believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu Lord Ram. The 16th-century Babri Masjid—which once stood at the disputed land—was razed in December 1992 by kar sevaks. The high-profile case had become a political and religious flashpoint.
Advani, others, accused of inctiing Babri Masjid demolition
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation, Advani, Joshi, Bharti, and Singh had allegedly made incendiary speeches from a dais close to the Babri Masjid on the day it was demolished, which incited the kar sevaks. Last week, Advani appeared before a special CBI court in Lucknow via videoconferencing where he was asked over 100 questions. According to his lawyer, Advani denied all charges.
Joshi, Bharti had also recorded statements
Joshi and Bharti had also recorded their statements before the same court. Joshi refuted the allegations against him and said the people who testified against him had political motives. Bharti had told NDTV, "If I am sent to the gallows, I will be blessed."