Led by Maoists, a group of 22 Nepali political parties protest Narendra Modi’s decision to speak to the faithful at Nepal’s Ramjanaki temple because people “fought for years to have a secular federal republic” against those who “interfere with our new Republican Constitution.”

The Indian government this morning confirmed the cancellation of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to one of the most famous Hindu temples in South Asia, the Ramjanaki, in Nepal.

The decision was taken after a group of 22 Nepali political parties officially protested against what they call “religious propaganda” by the Indian Prime Minister.

Modi will still visit Kathmandu, but only tomorrow (26 November), and will only attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit.

According to the original plan, Modi was to visit the temple today, decked out for the occasion, where he was expected to speak to Nepali and Indian Hindus.

A special procession from the Indian temple in Ajodhya – already at the centre of bloody violence against the local Muslim community – had arrived overnight to celebrate the speech by the Indian Prime Minister, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Narendra Modi is not only the Prime Minister of India, but is also the head of a clearly Hindu party,” said Ramchandra Jha, Maoist leader who led the protest politics. “We asked the governments of Nepal and India to cancel this meeting and proposed that Modi speak at another, secular venue. We fought for years to have a secular federal republic.”

According to Maoist party president Pushpa Kamal Dahal, “there are many conspiracies against Nepal’s secular state that are trying to interfere with our new Republican Constitution. The battle won for a secular government is threatened; we must safeguard it, and ensure that our country does not again have a state religion.”