Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s message to Ayodhya on the eve of Diwali was not one the right-wing groups were expecting. Instead of any momentous announcement on the Ram temple, or even the planned statue of Lord Ram, he spoke of development — plans for an airport and a medical college — which would be named after Lord Ram and his family. Even the district of Faizabad will be re-named Ayodhya, said the Chief Minister in a provocative gesture at critics who have targeted him for his re-naming spree.
Yogi Adityanath’s reinforcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development message comes amid vocal demands from right-wing groups for fast tracking of the building of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. There have also been demands that the Centre bypass the legal process through an executive order – the hearing on the title suit is pending at the Supreme Court.
Though a section of the BJP has supported the demands, there has been no response on the issue from PM Modi or ministers close to him. The Chief Minister — who was handpicked by PM Modi for the state’s top job — had issued cryptic messages, saying there should be no doubt that the temple will be built “at least among the saints”.
Underscoring that the programmes were meant to ensure that Lord Ram’s legacy is acknowledged, Yogi Adityanath today said, “I want to make sure that his legacy lives on forever”.
There was speculation that the state government would announce details about the planned Ram statue, which, some said, could be as tall as the statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat.
But with months to go for the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had come under massive opposition attack last week over the Rs 2,500 crore statue.
While the Congress pointed out that Sardar Patel had banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP, Mamata Banerjee said the iconic leader never wanted to divide the people of the country.