A series of events and announcements made by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during his two-day stay in Ayodhya for the Deepotsav celebrations clearly indicates that he is offering a mix of Hindutva and development to keep the Ram temple issue alive among the people.
The chief minister chose the timing of the declaration on the eve of Diwali to send his message to people in Uttar Pradesh as well as outside.
Interestingly, on the first day of the Deepotsav, he neither made any announcement about his plans to build a Ram statue nor did he utter a word on the Ram Temple. At this event, Kim Jung-sook, the First Lady of South Korea, was the chief guest.
Besides this, it was an occasion on which three lakh diyas were lit on the banks of the river Saryu, creating a world record.
Sources in the Uttar Pradesh government said that Adityanath did so because of two reasons. The first reason was that he did not want to divert public attention from the Deepotsav. Second, even as he was participating in various functions at different locations in Ayodhya, several officials in Ayodhya and Lucknow were working on the construction plan of the Ram statue.
The chief minister changed his tone on the second day of the Deepotsav. After a darshan of Ram Lalla at the disputed high-security Ram Janmabhoomi site, flanked by seers, Adityanath listed a number of development works that his government has planned for Ayodhya.
But two things which he said resonated with many people in Uttar Pradesh as well as outside the state — the promise to build a grand statue of Ram on the banks of the river Saryu, and the assertion, “Mandir tha, Mandir hai, Mandir rahega" (The temple was there, is there and will always be there)”.
It is a fact that people have been making limited religious offerings to Ram Lalla since the statue was installed on 22 December, 1949 inside the premises of the Babri Masjid. Further, after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December, 1992, a makeshift temple was built at the disputed site. A priest regularly offers puja there. There are many who believe that irrespective of the nature of the Supreme Court’s order, it is impossible for any government to demolish the “de-facto temple” and remove the Ram Lalla statue from its current location.
On the subject of the construction of a temple at the disputed site, Adityanath reiterated his party’s pledge and said that the resolution of the issue would be found within the existing constitutional framework. Nevertheless, he will have to answer queries from a large number of temple protagonists and sympathisers.
The section of the populace which Adityanath was trying to address in response to a query from the media forms the core of the BJP’s social support base. The Uttar Pradesh government had approached the Supreme Court with a prayer for early hearing in the title suit case.
Till the time some tangible move is made with regard to the temple construction (unlikely in near future), Adityanath has found a way to keep the people's sentiments alive and the Ayodhya pot boiling by using other measures.
Faizabad district is now Ayodhya, and Ayodhya town now has a municipal corporation. A large number of projects for the development of infrastructure and tourism have been initiated for the town.
Adityanath has now officially announced his intentions to build a statute of Ram on the banks of the Saryu river. The government has shortlisted three sites for the purpose. Though the chief minister didn’t say anything about the height of the statue, sources in the state administration told Firstpost that it would be 108 metres high.
The number 108 has special significance in Hindu mythology. There was a dispute about the height of the statue and it seems the government has finalised it at 108 metres. It is said that the statue of Lord Ram would be in the posture of a warrior.
The base will be about 50 metres high. It will house a museum narrating the importance of Ayodhya, a chronicle on Lord Ram's Ikshavaku dynasty and highlights from the Ramanaya. The design is said to be the same as that of the newly unveiled Statue of Unity of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat. The statue of Ram would undoubtedly serve as a landmark for Ayodhya and further promote tourism, an official said.
Six presentations have so far been made by various private players before the state authorities. Sources said that Jaggi Vasudev had made a proposal to the state government to build the statue. He was willing to meet all the expenses and even sent a design of it. But the design was different from the one (warrior Ram) envisaged by the Adityanath government and thus, it was not approved.
The chief minister’s office is confident that in a month’s time, everything would be finalised and a formal announcement about the size of the project, exact location and other things would be made. Adityanath wants this huge project to be completed in less than a year, and plans to unveil it on the occasion of Diwali Deepotsav next year.
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Updated Date: Nov 08, 2018 20:16 PM