New Delhi, Aug 5 (PTI) With the Congress under attack from various quarters over what was seen by many as a subtle shift in its position on the Ram temple issue, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday rejected allegations that the grand old party was being “BJP-Lite” and asserted that Lord Ram is not the “property” of the saffron party. Seeking to clear the air on what he said were “widespread misrepresentations” he had heard during the course of the day, Shashi Tharoor put out a series of tweets to spell out his party’s stand on the Ram temple issue.

In his tweets, Shashi Tharoor also addressed those Muslims who say that they feel let down by the Congress and cited verses from the holy Quran, asking “who exactly betrayed you?”. “Not those who stand for an inclusive India, who have neither attacked you nor preached hatred against you,” he said, addressing the section of Muslims riled by the Congress’ stand. Shashi Tharoor’s remarks assume significance as they came after Indian Union Muslim League, a major ally in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, passed a resolution expressing displeasure over Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s statement on the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Ahead of the ‘bhoomi pujan’ ceremony in Ayodhya, the Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh issued the statement, hoping that the groundbreaking ceremony becomes “a celebration of national unity, fraternity and cultural affinity”. Priyanka’s remarks were seen by its allies, including the Muslim League, as a subtle shift in Congress’ position on the emotive issue. Several Congress leaders had also welcomed the “bhumi pujan” ceremony and hailed the Ram temple construction. Former party president Rahul Gandhi said Lord Ram is the ultimate embodiment of supreme human values and can never appear in cruelty, hatred or injustice. Hitting out at the BJP, Shashi Tharoor said, “Shri Ram is not the property of BJP. He is the ideal man whose image is deeply etched in the hearts and minds of millions.

Gandhiji always sang his hymns and died with “Hei Ram’ on his lips. He talked about a Ram Rajya where all would live in peace and prosperity. Can’t let his name be hijacked!” The universal appeal of Ram and Sanatan Dharma cannot be commandeered by those who chant either hymns or slogans, he said, asserting that Lord Ram belongs to all humanity. For Hindutva, Ram is a God to be worshipped; for Gandhi, Ram represented ideal qualities that every person should practise and seek to emulate, he said. “Let’s be clear: @INCIndia was NEVER opposed to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, but to the criminal demolition of the Babri Masjid.

In 1989, Rajiv Gandhi ji allowed VHP to do shilanyas on non-disputed land nearby as an alternate site: At the same time it was NOT Rajiv Gandhi who ordered opening of the locks at the masjid, but the district judge of Faizabad who ordered the locks to be opened in 1986!!” Tharoor said in his tweets. “Whatever you feel about today’s events, the Masjid’s demolition is a blot on our conscience. As Rahul Gandhi said in 2007, ‘My father said to my mother that he would stand in front of Babri Masjid. They would have had to kill him first’,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said. Hitting out at some Left-liberal intellectuals accusing the Congress of being “BJP-Lite”, Tharoor said many leaders welcomed the Ram temple after the Supreme Court judgement, but they did not instigate Hindus against Muslims.

“They did not make hate speeches against the Muslim community. They hailed the ideal Ram ji,” he said. “To those who insist there is no difference between the political parties in India, I ask: is there is no difference between those who would respectfully have come to an accommodation with the Muslim community on a Ram mandir, and those who, with rage and hate, destroyed the mosque?” the former Union minister asked. Earlier in the morning, ahead of the foundation laying ceremony, Tharoor tweeted, “Lord Shri Ram epitomises justice for all, righteous conduct, fairness and firmness in all dealings, moral rectitude and courage.”

“These values are much needed in such dark times. If they spread throughout the land, Ram Rajya would not be an occasion for triumphalist bigotry,” he said, using the hash tag ‘JaiShriRam’. In a highly-anticipated event watched by millions on television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day laid the foundation of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The wait of centuries has ended, Modi said after performing the groundbreaking ceremony, made possible by a Supreme Court verdict last year that allowed the construction of the temple at the site where the Babri mosque was demolished by kar sevaks in 1992.