Religion is private, festivals are for all: Derek O'Brien quotes Mamata Banerjee amid Ram Temple debate

TMC leader's post comes as the ruling BJP has been criticising Opposition leaders for turning down the invitation to the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on 22 January

Derek O’Brien has quoted his party leader on X (photo: National Herald archives)
Derek O’Brien has quoted his party leader on X (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

As the political war of words continues over invitations to the Ram Temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya, TMC (Trinamool Congress) leader Derek O'Brien on Thursday recalled West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's over-a-decade-old quote that "religion is private, festivals are for everyone", and said not a truer word has been spoken.

"'Religion is private, festivals are for everyone' Mamata Banerjee, 2011. Not a truer word spoken," O'Brien said in a post on X.

The TMC leader's post came as the ruling BJP has been criticising the Opposition leaders for turning down the invitation to the Ram Temple consecration ceremony on 22 January.

Senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday "respectfully declined" the invitation to attend the Ram Temple consecration ceremony, with the party accusing the BJP of making it into a "political project" for electoral gains and asserting that religion is a "personal matter".

Earlier, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had also declined an invitation, with the Left party saying religion is a personal choice and should not be converted into an instrument of political gain.

It is not clear if Banerjee has received an invitation for the ceremony. The West Bengal chief minister had on Tuesday alleged that the BJP was indulging in a "gimmick show" through the inauguration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The TMC supremo asserted "she does not support festivities that exclude other communities" and does not believe in dividing masses on religious lines.

"Yesterday I was asked to comment on the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya as if I have nothing else to do. I said that religion belongs to individuals but festivals are for all," she said.

In similar remarks, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has said "religion cannot be a part of politics" and accused the BJP of "hiding behind religion".

Asked about attending the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple, he said, "How can the BJP decide who to invite and who not? This does not mean a call from Lord Shri Ram, it is a call from the BJP."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and more than 6,000 guests are expected to attend the ceremony. The temple trust has also invited 4,000 seers from across the country and 50 guests from foreign countries.

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