NCP chief Sharad Pawar has backed the stance adopted by his alliance partner and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying that this is not the right time for large crowds to gather in Ayodhya for the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ram temple construction.
Speaking to CNN-News18, Pawar said that the ‘bhoomi pujan’ ceremony can be done by a very select few people in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as a large gathering may further lead to the virus spreading.
“A question was asked to me about whether I’m going to attend (the bhoomi pujan), so I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to attend’. I am not against the ceremony but my top priority is coronavirus and that’s why I’m concentrating here… I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
According to members of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Ayodhya on August 5 for the "bhoomi pujan" ceremony to begin the construction of the Ram temple.
The veteran politician was at pains to point out that not wishing to attend the ceremony should not be construed as opposition to the construction of the temple itself.
“The Supreme Court has already given a clear cut decision. I categorically say that we are not against the temple. Let very few people go and they can perform the puja while the others should concentrate on coronavirus,” he added.
He said Thackeray’s suggestion, from what he had heard was for similar reasons. “The CM was not very happy with the idea of a big assembly of people as coronavirus can spread in a large gathering, so that’s why he made that suggestion,” he said.
Thackeray had on Sunday said that the ceremony for the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya can be conducted through video-conference.
"An e-bhoomi pujan can be done. The ground-breaking ceremony can be held through video-conference. This is an event of joy, and lakhs of people would be interested in attending the ceremony. Will we allow the spread of coronavirus?" Thackeray said in an interview published in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
He had added that while he can go to Ayodhya for the ceremony, he asked if lakhs of “Ram bhakts” can be stopped from going there.