Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti finally attended the foundation stone laying ceremony for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday after initial reluctance.
Bharti, earlier on August 3, had declared her intention to skip the main ceremony in Ayodhya citing the threat from coronavirus infection to dignitaries such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She had said she will instead be present chanting hymns at the banks of Sarayu river in the city.
However, Bharti, a prominent figure of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, tweeted on Wednesday to say she was bound by her faith in Lord Ram and since she was invited by the top officials of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust and asked by them to attend the grand event, she would oblige.
“I am bound by the values of Maryada Purshottam Ram. I have been instructed to be present at the site for the groundbreaking ceremony by a senior official of the Ram Temple trust. Therefore I will be attending this programme.,” she tweeted this morning.
Bharti was seen seated next to Sadhvi Rithambara, another prominent leader of the Ram temple movement, during the ceremony.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Swami Avadeshanand Giri, head of the Juna Akhara, were also present at the ceremony.
Senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) leader Dinesh ji, who goes by one name, introduced RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to saints present at the venue.
Iqbal Ansari, a Muslim litigant in the Ayodhya title suit, too, attended the ceremony. But Mohammad Sharif, a Padma Shri awardee, could not attend the event due to ill-health. Both are residents of Ayodhya.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the venue, some of the invitees also went to the ceremony site and paid their respects there.
Other stalwarts of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement including former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh were not present in person for the ceremony due to the greater threat Covid-19 infection poses to elderly people.