Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and governor Ram Naik pose with artistes dressed up as Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman during Deepotsav celebrations in AyodhyaUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has big plans for Ayodhya; the much talked about and debated on city where a Ram temple could be built, being a long standing wish for the BJP. The saffron clad Yogi paid a pre-Diwali visit to the city to take part in festivities which could be a first step in achieving that long standing goal of the temple.
There are those who support the idea of Yogi Adityanath celebrating Diwali in Ayodhya looking at it from a religious point of view.
This Yogi Adityanath is turning out to be a bigger event manager than Modi. It seems he wants to outdo his boss in this game!— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) October 19, 2017
What's wrong in celebrations at Ayodhya on Diwali? Isn't the festival about Ram's return to Ayodhya? The town needs positivity, light it up!— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai_ET) October 18, 2017
David Frawley, an American Hindu teacher, in a column for the right leaning Swarajya writes on the significance of Diwali in Ayodhya – “The aspiration for Rama Rajya that inspired the independence movement was derided and rejected by post-independence intellectuals and leaders who preferred to put their own images upon the country over that of Rama”. “Today, both in India as a whole and in Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located – under the guidance of Narendra Modi at a national level and Yogi Adityanath at a state level – there is a new movement towards Rama Rajya, the rule of dharma and the honouring of Yoga”. The Deccan Chronicle editorial did not take too kindly to the festivities stating the use of religious symbols in this particular instance was cynical – “There is a statement attributed to Lenin in Russia before the Bolshevik revolution, when the Czars held power - that the greater the number of churches, the worse the condition of the people. The meaning is quite clear: The rulers promoted church-building to divert the attention of the populace from life’s torments resulting from misrule”. “This is something for the people of Uttar Pradesh to think about too. With the state having been handed over to a Hindu monk-politician of the communal variety to administer, conditions of everyday life have deteriorated rapidly in the recent period. This has not stopped Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, personally, from foregrounding the mythology around Lord Rama and Ayodhya”. Though some countries do have norms regarding separation of religion and politics, India is a country where both are intertwined and parties are emboldened to adopt a religious identity in their political campaigning. The answer that the Chief Minister gives in response to this is how can anyone i.e. the opposition, question or interfere with his personal faith. The Deccan Chronicle editorial points to this sentiment - “The state cannot be a part of religious activities in India. Praises of divinity in any form, through routes followed by devotees of any faith, must necessarily be the province of individuals and civil society entities, and not the government”. “The UP Chief Minister has disregarded this necessary attribute of our democracy. He has laid himself open to people of non-Hindu faiths pressing a demand to be shown the same consideration by the government. As a party, the BJP needs to reflect on the use of religious symbols for politics”. Going forward, it’s clear that the BJP will make the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya part of its rhetoric as it did prior to the Uttar Pradesh elections where the BJP in its manifesto promised to look into all possible options within Constitution for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Throughout the last decade, a stumbling block the party and its allies like the VHP had was not having a majority government at the Centre and in the state. This has now changed in their favor. The balancing act of sorts the BJP and the state government need to do is this; they cannot in any way proceed on the temple unless they a favorable verdict from the Supreme Court. They also need to ensure that their base support is happy, which means taking concrete steps toward that goal. All said and done, it looks like Ayodhya will be the epicenter of Hindutva politics even more so than it was in the past.
What a sight!! Took us 70 years to do this one simple thing, light up Ayodhya on Deepawali as if must have been lit on that fateful day! https://t.co/uFFmmNZDXn— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) October 18, 2017
More columns by Varun Sukumar