Over 100 UP Congress office-bearers to visit Ayodhya on 15 January
Congress state unit chief Ajay Rai, UP in-charge Avinash Pande, MP Pramod Tiwari and former MP P.L. Punia will be part of the group visiting Ayodhya on Makar Sankranti day on 15 January
Ahead of the Ram Temple consecration, around 100 Congress office-bearers from Uttar Pradesh, including party's state unit chief Ajay Rai and state in-charge Avinash Pande, will visit Ayodhya on January 15 on Makar Sankranti.
During their visit to the holy city, the Congress leaders will take a dip in Saryu river, and then visit the Ram temple and Hanumangarhi temple, Rai said on Sunday.
"On January 15, I am going to Ayodhya. Our general secretary and UP in-charge Avinash Pande, and senior leaders Pramod Tiwari and P.L. Punia will also visit Ayodhya. In all, around 100 Congressmen will go there," Rai told PTI on Sunday.
Giving details about his plan, Rai said, "A decision has been taken to visit Ayodhya on January 15. At 9.13 am, the Sun will become 'Uttarayan' (northward movement of the Sun), and at 9.15 am, we will depart for Ayodhya chanting 'Jai Siya Ram' after observing the tradition of breaking coconut."
He added that the Congress office-bearers will take a dip in Saryu after reaching Ayodhya, visit the Ram temple and Hanumangarhi.
To a question as to whether the UP Congress wants to deliver any message to the public by undertaking the journey on Makar Sankranti, Rai said, "We are going there because of our religious feelings. This is my first visit to Ayodhya after I became the chief of the UP unit of the Congress. Prior to this, I had visited Ayodhya several times."
Meanwhile, Pande, newly appointed AICC in-charge of UP, said the Congress has never played with the 'aastha' (faith) of people.
"On January 15, I am going there (Ayodhya) to attend a personal programme. Prabhu Shri Ram resides in our heart," Pandey told PTI.
This is Pande's first visit to Ayodhya after assuming the charge of in-charge of the UP unit of Congress.
Pande also said that no "political meaning" should be derived from his proposed visit to Ayodhya, and that he was going there owing to his faith.
"Be it Lord Ram or Lord Krishna, the Congress has never played with the 'aasthaa' of the people, and will never do so," he said.
When asked if any talks are going on with the BSP for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, Pande said, "The coordination committee at the national level is working on this. What discussions they had with the BSP is not known to me."
On the possibility of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP coming together, Pande said, "The aim of everyone is same...we have to get rid of the undeclared emergency-like situation prevailing in the country, and all the like-minded parties will have to come together with a single goal."
When asked whether the Congressmen will have 'khichri bhoj' in Ayodhya or in Lucknow after returning from the holy city, UP Congress chief Rai said, "It is not necessary that a 'khichri bhoj' has to take place. 'Dahi-chura' (traditional food of Makar Sankranti) is also consumed. We can have 'dahi-chura' at the house of a party worker."
Rai also accused the BJP of distributing worshipped 'akshat' (rice grains mixed with turmeric and ghee) during the "inauspicious" period of 'Kharmaas'.
"I come from the city of Baba Vishwanath (Varanasi). We have faith in Lord Ram. Today, when the 'Kharmaas' is still underway, they (BJP) are distributing 'akshat', sending invites for the Ram temple consecration. During 'Kharmaas', they are doing auspicious work."
According to Lucknow-based astrologer Trilokinath Singh, during 'Kharmaas', all auspicious activities are forbidden. It started on December 16, 2023 and will end on January 15, 2024, he said.