Ram Mandir Politics: BJP and Congress Lock Horns over PM Modi’s 11-Day Fasting Controversy

The historic event of the grand inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on January 22nd was not without any controversy. The Congress leader Veerappa Moily questioned whether PM Narendra Modi had actually fasted for 11 days before the event, as it was said to be. He referred to the medical opinion that living for such a long time on nothing but coconut water would be a miracle. BJP MP Lahar Singh Siroya criticized this, calling Moily a faker.
As per the reports, in the 11 days before the inauguration, PM Modi followed a satvic lifestyle – doing cow worship, feeding cows, donating clothes as per the scriptures, and consuming only coconut water and fruits. His activities also included visiting the major temples connected to the Ramayana in the South India. He visited Ram Setu the day before the ceremony. Post-inauguration, Modi ended his fast by drinking the Charanamrit from Mahant Govind Dev Giri.
In this period, there were no clear signs of any fatigue seen on the Prime Minister. On the other hand, the Congress leader Veerappa Moily has his doubts. 24th January, he disclosed that he spoke to a doctor who said no human can live on the coconut water for that long. Moily asserted that if Modi did so, it would be a great miracle. He also implied that the sanctum sanctorum could have been rendered impure if Modi hadn’t actually fasted before performing the puja there.
In 2021, a team of 5 men in Kerala reported living on the coconut water alone for up to 500 days. Apart from that there are many such incidents reported in India, for instance, an athlete from Kerala itself has lived on only tender coconut water for 23 years. Medical experts, however, argued that this was not believable or safe for the majority of the individuals. However, fasting solely on coconut water for 11 days can result in severe electrolyte abnormalities. It is usually advised to take vitamins and mineral supplements to stay healthy while fasting.

However, the BJP MP Siroya criticized Moily’s statement as an attempt to appease the Gandhi family instead of showing genuine faith in the Lord Ram. He branded Moily as a fake and declared that faith would allow one to survive such a fast.
The controversy reveals many conflicts in the parties that vie to be identified as the true custodians of the Hindu religion and culture. The successful Ram Mandir event does much for the image of the BJP. Therefore, efforts by Congress to question or cast doubt on the details such as the PM’s fasting elicit strong counter-arguments. With both parties in the campaign mode, political score-settling seems to be the order of the day.

BJP and Congress clash over PM Modi's 11-day fasting controversy related to the Ram Mandir. Is it politics or religion? We analyze the debate and implications.

Besides, the Congress party’s decision to decline participation in the Ram Mandir consecration ceremony indicates the absence of any clear doctrine on the sensitive Ayodhya issue. While the decision seems quite principled it surely doesn’t eliminate their history on this issue. Didn’t Sonia Gandhi strongly condemn the Babri demolition in 1992? And didn’t Rahul Gandhi echo a similar sentiment in 2007, suggesting the Gandhis would have defended the mosque?

Ayodhya verdict does not condone
demolition: Sonia Gandhi
news published by Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have in the past condemned the Babri mosque demolition in emotional terms, implying the Gandhis would have protected the mosque, the party’s messaging has been consistently inconsistent. 

Babri wouldn't have fallen if a Gandhi was PM: Rahul
Babri wouldn’t have fallen if a Gandhi was PM: Rahul report Publish by Times of India

Several leaders of the Congress supported the participation in the ceremony, although the Gandhis had denied the legitimacy of the temple before. This internal division indicates a party that is unable to define its position. Though avoiding the event, they did not advance Gandhis’ original position in defending the Babri Masjid by boldly, or did not clarify an evolved point of view. 

However, until the Congress spells out its thoughts on Ayodhya beyond the general references to the Gandhi family’s sentiments, its credibility among the religious communities will remain diluted by such fence-sitting. Their lack of presence only puts the can down the road, while their party members seemed too engaged raising questions related to PM modi.
Perhaps the more relevant question here is – does it really matter if PM Modi observed a strict fast for 11 full days? Does that have anything to do with the bigger symbolic and spiritual meaning of re-consecrating the sacred Ram Janmabhoomi site? On the other hand, should we shift our attention from nitpicking the personal details to promoting the democratic values and pluralistic spirit that Ram represented?
The restoration of the temple is a time of social harmony and also national unity, not of political bickering. No matter what party an Indian belongs to, they all carry the common legacy of the universal teachings of the Ramayana. 

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