The echoes of Jai Shri Ram are set to get louder and shriller in Maharashtra as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is determined to whip up the emotive Ram temple issue to consolidate its Hindutva plank ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
In the state which has been mired in caste cauldron with Marathas seeking reservation within OBC, the right wing party believes that Ayodhya can prove to be an instrumental factor to break the impregnable barriers of caste and communities that threaten to shake the very structure on which Maharashtra is founded.
Officially, BJP projects Ram temple at Ayodhya not as a ‘political agenda’ of the party. Yet, the party has taken a decisive lead to play back and fast forward the Ram temple issue to make deeper inroads into masses, adopting different methods of campaign. In what can be termed as a well-calibrated move, BJP wants to keep the Ayodhya plank in active mode till the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “For us, Ram temple at Ayodhya is about faith. It displays our highest reverence for Lord Ram who is worshipped across India and outside. The magnificent temple is a commitment which has been fulfilled keeping in mind the wishes of people of India.”
The sheer thought that our generation is going to witness the installation of Ram lala idol at the magnificent temple premises at Ayodhya in itself is a proud moment which will be cherished life-long, he said.
Although the party downplays the political aspect which was integral part of the entire Ram Janmabhoomi movement since 1980s, Maharashtra BJP reckons the potential to expand its outreach among the masses by providing Ayodhya pilgrimage.
To begin with, the party has planned to facilitate the visit of 15 lakh people to Ayodhya in a staggered manner once the temple is opened for public after January 22.
As state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “More than 15 lakh people will take the pilgrimage in phases over the next few months. The numbers are rising daily.” The BJP has planned to provide 36 trains from Mumbai to Ayodhya. The Mumbai BJP leaders have insisted one train for each Assembly constituency. Mumbai with six Lok Sabha seats comprise 36 assembly segments.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has urged people to participate in temple inauguration at large numbers. At the Dusshera public rally held in Nagpur, Bhagwat had said, “Lord Ram’s idol will be installed at temple in Ayodhya. The temple will be inaugurated on January 22, 2024. People should organise programmes in local temples across Bharat.” Since everybody cannot be present at Ayodhya on the same day, given restrictions and limitations of space, Bhagwat suggested community celebration in neighbourhood temples across country.
The Ram temple euphoria, which transcends beyond party lines and constituency is also becoming a challenge for the ruling party as it reckons that it is going to be a daunting task for its counterpart in Uttar Pradesh when it comes to providing facilities in Ayodhya.
Bawankule pointed out, “In the past, Congress used to ask documentary evidence/proof about the existence of Ram temple. Now, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray seems to be allergic to the name Ram. Or else, why should he object to our central leaders providing people pilgrimage to Ayodhya.”
In 2019, Uddhav Thackeray gave up Hindutva to join hands with Congress, NCP (Sharad Pawar) for power. He fulfilled his desire of CM. But it came with the cost of putting Hindutva on back burner, Bawankule said.
Fans request Amitabh Bachchan not to watch India vs Australia ICC World Cup 2023 final, actor says ‘I am thinking…’
Sharjah court rejects plea by Mumbai DJ facing 25-year jail
Meanwhile, amid the reservation dilemma, right wing organisations RSS, BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal are strategically working together to pitch Ram temple on a grander scale.
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar said, “In the past, they (RSS/ BJP/ VHP) launched the Ram Janmabhoomi movement since they wanted to fix the historic wrong. But their agenda was to polarise the society and it did succeed as the nation was split into Mandir versus Mandal. Today, once again they want to skirt the real issues including reservation by bringing temple agenda to forefront.”
A Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator requesting anonymity said, “Ram temple finds connect within all communities including Marathas. They will participate in celebrations and campaign. Yet, Marathas are unlikely to compromise its stand on reservation. The Shinde government will have to fulfil its promise on reservation quota.”