- Mr Pawar urged centre to "pay more attention" to coronavirus, economy
- Ram Temple Trust met Saturday over beginning of construction
- PM Modi has been invited to attend groundbreaking ceremony
Veteran opposition leader Sharad Pawar on Sunday urged central and state governments to "pay more attention" to coronavirus and the economy hit by the lockdown. For Maharashtra too, these are the priorities, he said, even though "some people might think that corona will go away after a temple is built".
Though the 79-year-old did not go into specifics, the timing of his words carried a hint.
On Saturday, the Ram Mandir Trust -- set up on the directions of the Supreme Court to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya -- met to set a date for the beginning of the construction. The tentative date for the groundbreaking ceremony could be either on August 3 or 5 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to attend.
PM Modi had announced the formation of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust on February 5 but the plans for temple building were delayed by the outbreak of coronavirus.
"We always think about what should be prioritized. As of now, our priority is to help those infected with coronavirus recover. Some people think that coronavirus will go away after temple is constructed. That's why they would have organised the programme. I am only getting to know about this from you people," Mr Pawar said.
"For us, fighting coronavirus is very important. Because of the virus, lockdown had to be enforced. We are concerned about the economic crisis, the impact it has had on small businesses. That's why I request the state government and the Centre to pay special attention to it... There should be discussion in Delhi on how to help people to come out of the economic crisis," he added.
The opposition, especially the Congress -- a ruling ally of Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra – has repeatedly accused the Centre of not doing enough to help the country cope with the outbreak and ruing the economy to ground during the lockdown.
PM Modi has been ridiculed for his initiative of lighting lamps and clanging utensils -- which were meant as tribute to corona warriors -- in the early days of lockdown.