People need to think about themselves, not get swayed by Ram Temple: Shashi Tharoor

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Jaipur, Feb 5 (IANS) Congress leader Shashi Tharoor believes that the Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya will just have a short-term impact in favour of the BJP and the issue may not benefit the ruling party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Stressing that people need to think about their living conditions and not the Ram Temple, he says: “It is high time they emphasized their economic condition. Is it better under this government? Are they happy with their lives? Can they afford to eat what they were two years back? Just look at the prices of basic commodities… has their condition improved on any parameter under this government?”

The MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, while speaking at a session and later with the media during the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), said that the current dispensation has done “very little” to empower the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid and trying to make ends. “The poor are getting poorer and nothing is working for them. Congress is committed to a free economy and wants to witness the participation of the financially weak (in the economy) so they can succeed in their lives.”

Ask him about the multiple raids and arrests of politicians by central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Tharoor opines that while the agencies should do their work, it is important that it is done fairly. “Why is it that only Opposition leaders are arrested? It is sad to see that these agencies are being shamelessly used by the government.”

He said that till a few years ago there was a culture of cooperating across divides, including politically to serve the nation, but the same “does not hold now”.

“Anyone who disagrees with the Central government is branded anti-national. Just because we have different approaches, does it mean that we do not respect and love our country? Every country, state and constituency needs a different approach. Sadly, for over a decade now there has been talk of only one person and democracy is facing a real challenge,” Tharoor added.

Accusing the Centre of destroying India’s democratic institutions, he said the country is turning into an “electoral dictatorship”. “The country now needs a different leadership that is willing to understand the needs of the people and find solutions to their problems.”

Calling upon the youth to use their vote carefully, he said that only their vote counted and their future is in their own hands.

Even as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has switched back to NDA and Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee has announced to go alone in West Bengal, Tharoor said that the INDIA alliance comprises several parties and there are bound to be disagreements.

Dismissing BJP’s criticism of Congress leaders not attending the Ram Temple ceremony, the politician-author said: “Just because we did not go to Ayodhya on that day does not mean we have something against Hinduism. By the way, since childhood, I have been praying to Ram. BJP should remember that it does not have a right over Ram. I will go when I want to. For us to choose our own time and place, convenience and worship, does not make us anti-Hindu.”



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