A major cultural dispute erupted in Assam on January 22, 2024, when Congressman Rahul Gandhi intended to travel to Batadrava Than, the birthplace of the venerated Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardeva.
Now in Assam following his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ entry into the state, Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that he was not permitted to visit Batadrava Than and could only enter after 3 PM today.
It should be noted that on January 21, Satra officials asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to visit the site only after 3 PM; nonetheless, Gandhi is said to have arrived early. Rahul Gandhi stated, “We really want to go to the temple (Batadrava Than)”. What offense have I done that justifies my exclusion from the temple?”
Gandhi was advised to reconsider his visit earlier on January 21, to coincide with the Ayodhya Ram Temple’s consecration ceremony, by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam.
Sarma voiced worries about possible disruptions to law and order, especially along sensitive routes that Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra was scheduled to travel through minority-dominated areas like Morigaon, Jagiroad, and Nellie. The Chief Minister emphasized that, despite their different cultural significance, Lord Ram and Sankardeva should not be seen as being in rivalry with one another.
He proposed that Gandhi move his visit to an early morning or evening slot in order to prevent unnecessarily taking the nation’s attention away from the Ayodhya incident. The Congress party said that Gandhi’s visit would go forward as scheduled in spite of their requests.
Sarma also brought up the practical difficulties of permitting the Yatra to pass through Guwahati city during rush hour, pointing out possible interruptions to hospitals, institutions, and schools. He underlined that in order to keep peace and order, there must be more patrols and vigilante monitoring.
The incident highlighted the delicate equilibrium that must be maintained in India between political activity and cultural sensitivity, since the timing and type of such trips can have significant symbolic significance and spark heated debate among people.