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Upendra Bharati | HENB | Ayodhya | Oct 14, 2017:: On October 18, on a day before auspicious Diwali at Ayodhya, Uttar Pardesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will lead the Mega Diwali celebrations this year. He will be joined by Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, Union tourism minister K J Alphons and Union cultural minister Mahesh Sharma. A Grand Deepotsav programme where 1.71 lakh earthen oil lamps will be lit at Ram ki Paidi, about 2 km from the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri site alongwith a heritage walk through Ayodhya; a Shobha Yatra to showcase the arrival of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after Lanka Vijay (victory in Lanka) and a symbolic “rajyabhishekam” (coronation).
On the very day before Diwali, the UP CM may lay the foundation stone or may perform a Bhoomi Pujan (holy rituals) for the construction of a huge 551 feet statue of Lord Rama on the bank of river Saryu. Though, the Principal Secretary Tourism of UP Govt, Awanish Awasthi told earlier that the statue will be installed only after clearance from the National Green Tribunal, this Diwali Celebration may declare and do much more.
Actually, Ayodhya Nagar Nigam had forwarded the proposal to the tourism department after a series of meetings with the personal staff of chief minister Yogi Adityanath in August and September. Now, it is in the final stage of approval.
It is obvious that BJP is now set to promise its core vote bank a Ram statue in Ayodhya rather than immediate construction of a Ram temple as part of its 2019 general election campaign to manage the ‘Ram Temple pressure’ coming from various demanding points within the party and beyond.
Political analysts believe that the proposed Ram statue is a ploy to appease the Sangha Parivar cadres including VHP and Bangrangdal activists, who are mounting pressure for the construction of a temple now that the BJP is in power both at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.
According to Central BJP decision, CM Adityanath has intensified his activities in Ayodhya, 150km east of Lucknow, in the run-up to the official announcement of the plan to build the statue and to lay the foundation stones for Rs 137.70 crore worth of projects at an event organised at the Ram Katha Park on October 18, the day before Diwali (called Chhoti Diwali). This comes under the Union Tourism ministry’s approved The Navya Ayodhya tourism hub project.
The proposed statue in Lord Rama’s warrior position will be a part of the Saryu riverfront development project that includes many activities to beautify an 8-km-long stretch of the river.
The projects include the construction of a multi-purpose hall at the Digambar Akhara and the beautification of Ram Ki Paudi, a site on the Saryu’s banks where Lord Ram is believed to have bathed often.
Sources said that Adityanath, who is also chief pontiff of the famous Gorakhnath Math of Nath sects of Hindu faith in adjoining Gorakhpur district, will also lead a religious procession in Ayodhya on Chhoti Diwali with a tableau on the life of Lord Ram. Elephants, horses and thousands of saints, seers, dignitaries and common people will be part of the grand procession, the sources said.
This heritage walk, a yatra reminiscing return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya, and launch of several schemes by chief minister and other dignitaries will be part of the programme.
A grand “aarti” of River Saryu will also be performed by the chief minister and the governor and a laser show will be held on the banks of the river.
During the programme, traditional Ramlila will be staged by artists from Indonesia and Thailand with the help of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
The Union Govt had already put Ayodhya on its development agenda by okaying Rs 250 crore for the Ramayan Circuit comprising the temple town, this proposal from the state government has come at a time when hardline Hindu groups and some BJP leaders are pushing for a temple to be built at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site, the title suit of which is pending in the Supreme Court.
The budget presented by the Yogi government, which came to power in March, had special mention of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura pilgrimage promotion, earmarking Rs 1,240 crore for the Ramayan, Buddhist and Krishna circuits in these cities.
In the meantime, Zafaryab Jilani of All India Muslim Personal Law Board protested Yogi government’s plan to install a statue of Lord Rama in Ayodhya saying it is an unconstitutional and communal one. Jilani also hinted to knock the door of the court of law to stop such activities by Yogi Govt.
The Allahabad High Court had in 2010 divided the 2.77-acre disputed plot in Ayodhya equally between the Nirmohi Akhara, Sunni Central Waqf Board and Ram Lalla Birajman (presiding deity of infant Ram), represented by Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Triloki Nath Pandey.
All three parties have challenged the order in the Supreme Court of India, seeking possession of the entire plot which is now still pending there.
Ayodhya will spend crores of rupees for a grand observation of Diwali this time. But, that can’t be able to change the make-shift temple of tents of Ram Lala. When the whole Ayodhya will be illuminated with sparkling fireworks, attractive lighting, enchantments of 1.71 lakh earthen oil lamps and the whole city will be engrossed with the festivity of thousands and thousands people; Ram Lalla will be awaiting in a dim lighted corner in the confinement of heavy para-military forces in his small make shift house for another year for the restoration of his prestige from the humiliating hands of of some Hindutva perpetrators.
Demand of Ram Mandir still remains an election agenda of BJP, not a matter to restore Ram Lalla in a temple. They think Lord Rama lives in the hearts of his crores of devotees. So, what’s the need a Ram Temple in Ayodhya at all? Rather, the holly matter of Ram Temple must be included in their election manifesto, so that they can get victory with the name of Lord Ram!