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Sonia Gandhi Likely To Attend Ram Temple Event In Ayodhya On January 22: Sources

New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi is likely to attend the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, Congress sources said Friday. Mrs Gandhi, party boss Mallikarjun Kharge, and the party's leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, were all invited to the event, which has become the focus of the country's political rhetoric ahead of a general election in less than four months.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had said either Mrs Gandhi - who, he said, was "very positive on this matter" - or a delegation will attend the ceremony to be headlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sources said the Congress' decision on this politically sensitive issue followed extensive talks with its allies, including those in the INDIA opposition bloc, such as the Indian Union Muslim League.

The Congress is understood to have explained its decision as walking a necessary tight rope before the election. Not attending the Ram Temple event, the Congress felt, would give the BJP a deadly weapon with which to attack Mrs Gandhi's party and, by extension, its INDIA allies, before polling.

Initiations to non-BJP political leaders have stirred up an (entirely predictable) hornet's nest, with opposition parties now weighing the pros and cons of either decision. To attend could leave them open to a possible backlash from minority communities, not just Muslims, ahead of a general election and multiple state polls next year, while abstaining will give the ruling BJP ammunition for the same.

The CPIM and CPI have made their beds; earlier this week Brinda Karat said her party would skip what she slammed as "using religion as a political weapon". "No, we will not go. We respect the religious beliefs... but they are connecting a religious programme with politics... it is not right," she said.

The BJP - for which construction of the temple has been a major campaign issue, and will be again in the run-up to the 2024 general and state polls - hit back at Ms Karat with Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi, saying, "... invitations were sent to all (but) only those called by Lord Ram will come".

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