Lord Ram temple resonates in electionsLord Ram temple resonates in elections

Virendra Singh Rawat

After the Uttar Pradesh Budget 2024-25 was tabled in the state assembly on February 5, chief minister Yogi Adityanath noted the annual financial document was themed around Lord Ram’s ideals of equity in socioeconomic development.

It was explicit that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would amplify the theme of Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections for gaining the favour of the electorate.

While the saffron party is harping on the Ram temple, which witnessed a ‘Pran Pratistha’ (consecration) ceremony on January 22 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the election rallies, the narrative is predominant in the Awadh region, which largely corresponds to the Central UP districts.

On May 5, Modi offered prayers at the Lord Ram temple before leading a roadshow in the holy town with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in tow.

Faizabad (now rechristened Ayodhya) was the capital of the erstwhile Awadh region.

The districts falling under the Awadh region include Lucknow, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Ayodhya, Kanpur, Sultanpur, Barabanki, Pratapgarh, Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Fatehpur, Pilibhit etc.

In their rallies, BJP star campaigners Modi and Yogi have been mounting fierce attacks on the Opposition for allegedly declining the Ram temple consecration invite as well as the purported minority appeasement by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP).

In an election rally, Modi stated by declining the consecration invite, the opposition parties had shown disrespect for Lord Ram.

“After 500 years, the dream of a grand Ram temple was fulfilled in Ayodhya….when the people built a grandiose temple and invited you (opposition) for the consecration ceremony, they insulted Lord Ram by declining the invitation,” Modi quipped.

As the multiphase polling in UP gradually progresses from Western UP to Eastern UP districts, the BJP is confident that the Lord Ram theme will resonate with the masses and that they will support the party at the hustings.

A BJP leader noted Ram temple is a syncretic issue related to the sentiments and religious beliefs of the people, yet the opposition parties chose to decline the invitation for the temple consecration ceremony to nurture their narrow vote bank and appeasement politics.

“The people are wiser to see through their (opposition) public posturing for vested political interests,” he said adding the electorate will vote for nation building and also preserving the country’s rich traditions and cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, the opposition camps of Congress, SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been trying to counter the strong Ram temple narrative by flaying the BJP for allegedly trying to mix religion with politics.

Senior SP leader and former UP cabinet minister Rajendra Chaudhary rubbished suggestions that the BJP could gain any political capital out of the Ram temple issue.

“The Lok Sabha polls are being fought on economic and national issues. The issue of Ram temple is related to religious beliefs. The voters are largely secular in nature and they do not tend to mix issues of beliefs and politics during elections,” he underlined.

Although Congress has dextrously tried to distance itself from the Ram temple discourse, party leader Rahul Gandhi ruffled feathers by alleging that President Droupadi Murmu was not invited to the consecration since she belonged to a tribal community.

This prompted a strong rebuttal by the Lord Ram temple trust, which rubbished the allegations of Gandhi as false, baseless and misleading.

Recently, Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust general secretary Champat Rai said both President Murmu and her predecessor Ram Nath Kovind were invited to the ceremony.

Interestingly, on May 1, President Murmu visited the Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya and paid her obeisance to the presiding deity.

Meanwhile, in ground zero of Ram temple that is Faizabad (Ayodhya) Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has fielded sitting Member of Parliament Lallu Singh, while the Congress-SP INDIA bloc has nominated Awdhesh Prasad and the BSP has given the ticket to Sacchidanand Pandey.

All these candidates have already filed their nomination papers for the polls, which will witness voting on May 20.

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