Rajat Sharma


akb The first picture of Ram Lalla idol installed in the sanctum sanctorum of Ram temple in Ayodhya was revealed on Friday, even as Ganesh Puja ritual was being performed, three days ahead of the main consecration ceremony. Now all eyes are on the January 22 event when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform the consecration rituals. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Singh Yadav, who happens to be Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle, stirred a hornets’ nest when he justified the police firing on ‘kar sevaks’ in Ayodhya in 1990, in which the official death toll was 17, but the actual toll was higher. Shivpal Singh Yadav said, the ‘kar sevaks’ were “violating court order for maintaining status quo and police had to fire on them to protect the Constitution. The then state government was only following court orders.” The Samajwadi Party leader alleged that BJP was indulging in politics in the name of Lord Ram and this was the reason why the opposition has decided not to attend the consecration event. His remark was strongly opposed by Jagadguru Rambhadracharya, Sadhvi Ritambhara and preacher Morari Bapu. Sadhvi Ritambhara, who was my guest in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show (to be telecast by India TV on Sunday night), described the events that took place between October 30 and November 2, 1990, when police enforced a lockdown and barred train and bus services to Ayodhya. Ultimately, police resorted to firing to disperse kar sevaks. The sadhvi described how she had to change her clothes, travel in general railway compartments, and walk long distances through fields to evade police and reach Ayodhya. Shivpal Yadav may be one of the top leaders of Samajwadi Party now, but in 1990, when his elder brother Late Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister, he was neither an MLA or a minister. He used to distribute party leaflets and because of his brother’s clout, he became the president of Etawah district co-operative bank. Shivpal Yadav may have no insider knowledge about why his brother took the decision to order police to fire on kar sevaks. In ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show, Sadhvi Ritambhara said, “the sins committed by Samajwadi party leaders on Rambhakts (devotees of Ram) cannot be washed away in 100 births”. She alleged that police tried to dump bodies of kar sevaks in Saryu river, by tying them with rocks. Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh rubbed salt into the wounds of Ram devotees, when he said on Thursday that the main motive of BJP was to demolish Babri mosque and not to build the Ram temple. Singh claimed that the temple is coming up on land that was acquired by the then Congress government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to launch his 2024 poll campaign by using this event politically. Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury described Modi as “a fake Ram devotee”. He said, Modi has nothing to do with Ram or religion, and he wants to win the 2024 elections at any cost. Maharashtra Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi alleged that Modi has taken over the consecration ceremony that should have been performed by religious heads or shankaracharyas. When I asked Sadhvi Ritambhara about whether the event is being held to give electoral advantage to BJP and whether Modi wants to declare India a “Hindu Rashtra”, the Sadhvi said, India has been and will continue to be a Hindu Rashtra. When I asked whether there was any planning behind the demolition of Babri mosque, the Sadhvi replied, “there was no plan, but of course, it was all directed by destiny. The mosque was a symbol of the Age of Defeat. It was similar to killing somebody’s father and beating it with shoes in the town square. It was an affront to our self-respect. To save that dilapidated structure, the then UP police soiled its hands with the blood of our unarmed kar sevaks and made the Saryu river red with their blood. Our saints braved bullets on their chests to demolish a structure that had nothing to do with the self-respect of us Indians.” The sadhvi’s voice was filled with emotion as she spoke these words in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’. Another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday that “India is not a country of Hindus alone. Sikhs, Muslims and Christians also live in India and the Congress respects not one religion, but all religions. The Ayodhya event is one in which only Narendra Modi is being projected everywhere and there is no space for others, that is why Congress declined to go to the event.” However there are many leaders in the Congress, like Nirmal Khatri, former state unit president and Acharya Pramod Krishnam who do not agree with the official party line. Nirmal Khatri has said he will attend the consecration event because it is a historic one and as a Hindu, he cannot stay away from it. Acharya Pramod Krishnam said, he would go to Ayodhya on January 22, because “Lord Ram is the very soul of India, and nothing, not even politics, can be done without the blessings of Lord Ram”. The acharya alleged that Congress was being influenced by Left ideology and this is the reason why its top leaders are declining the invitation to attend the event. Nevertheless, the official Congress line is not going to change despite dissent from lower rung leaders. Senior Congress leaders must listen to what the famous preacher Morari Bapu told India TV. Morari Bapu normally avoids speaking on political issues, but he appeared hurt when opposition leaders questioned why Narendra Modi is being given the role of Mukhya Yajman at the event. Morari Bapu said, “it is not good to utter inauspicious words during an auspicious occasion. Those who are objecting why Modi is consecrating the temple, must not forget that had Modi not been the Prime Minister, nobody knows how many more years we should have waited for the Ram temple.” The fact is that a 500-year-long wait is now going to end. The Ram temple will now be open at his birthplace in Ayodhya. After the Supreme Court verdict, the temple has been built peacefully, without any fresh dispute. The temple has been built mainly with donations from across India and abroad. Not a single paisa of the government has been spent on the temple. To indulge in nitpicking by questioning whether the temple has been built away from the actual spot, or why Modi is taking all the credit, is nothing but a meaningless effort. The event that is going to take place on January 22 will be a historic one. It will accord respect to the feelings of millions of Hindus across the world. The temple has come up because of the efforts of Ram devotees. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government has developed Ayodhya as a major tourism spot. This is not only a religious issue. The road to economic development and prosperity of the people of Ayodhya will open up after the temple is inaugurated. Nobody should have any problem if one views the issue from the angle of development. As far as politics is concerned, these are the same people who were claiming a few years ago that the BJP is no more interested in building the Ram temple, because it wants to continue to garner votes in the name of Lord Ram. Now, the entire picture has changed. The opposition is now alleging that the temple is being inaugurated in order to harvest votes in the Lok Sabha elections. Opponents of Modi will first have to decide what they want to convey.

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