LK Advani, MM Joshi To Skip Ram Temple Opening, Says Trust. VHP Disagrees

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'They'll Try': VHP On LK Advani, MM Joshi Amid Row Over Ram Temple Event

LK Advani and MM Joshi led the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from the front. File

New Delhi:

BJP veterans Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi have been invited for the grand inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya in January, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said today. This comes shortly after the Ram temple trust told the media that the veterans were requested not to come owing to their old age and the biting cold.

Mr Advani, now 96, and Mr Joshi, 89, led the Ram Janmabhoomi movement from the front. A former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Advani took out the controversial ‘rath yatra’ from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to rally support for the movement. Both the BJP veterans were present at the time of the Babri Masjid demolition.

Alok Kumar, international working president of the VHP, said Mr Advani and Mr Joshi, leaders of the Ram Mandir movement, had been invited for the January 22 event. “We spoke about Ramji’s movement. Both the seniors said they would try their best to come for the event,” Mr Kumar said, according to a post on VHP’s handle on X.

The VHP is a part of the Sangh Parivar, the BJP’s ideological parent. 

This comes after Ram temple trust secretary Champat Rai’s statement that the veterans had been asked to stay away. “Both are elders of the family and considering their age, they were requested not to come, which was accepted by both,” Mr Rai told reporters yesterday, adding that preparations for the event are in full swing.

The remarks sparked a huge row, with many accusing the BJP leadership of sidelining and insulting the veteran leaders who led the party at one point.

Mr Rai yesterday said Shankaracharyas of six ancient schools, about 4,000 saints and 2,200 others have been invited for the grand ceremony that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The guests will include heads of major temples such as Kashi Vishwanath and Vaishno Devi, he said. 

Among veteran politicians, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, 90, will be invited, Mr Rai said.

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