Govt to release stamp on key Ram Temple movement leader

  • Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2015 18:32 IST
File photo of the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Amidst a controversy surrounding a decision to discontinue definitive postal stamps on former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, the centre will next month roll out a stamp on Mahant Avaidyanath, a key figure who was at the forefront of the Ram Temple movement in early 90s.

A three-time Lok Sabha MP and member of the Uttar Pradesh assembly, he was the head priest of Goraknath Temple at Gorakhpur and an active proponent of the idea of a Ram Temple at the disputed side at Ayodhya.

“Minister for Communication and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, will travel to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh on October 1 to release a commemorative stamp on Avaidyanath,” a government source told HT. Avaidyanath was also the guru of sitting Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, who is known for stoking controversies with his remarks. Unlike definitive stamps, the commemorative ones are not sold for use on postal envelopes.

The government, sources reveal, also plan to release this year commemorative stamps on Ramayana and Mahabharata – two major Sanskrit epics associated with the Hindu religion. “The exact date of their release will be announced soon,” the source said.

The latest decision may trigger a fresh bout of political slugfest between the Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules at the centre, and the Congress, which has cried foul over the discontinuity of postal stamps of India and Rajiv.

Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier this month defended the decision, taken on the advice of the Philatelic Advisory Committee, saying Indian posts should not glorify members from just one family and try to encapsulate other sons and daughters of mother India.

The BJP government, which came to power last year, has decided to issue definitive stamps on Jan Sangh (previous avatar of BJP) leaders Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay, apart from luminaries such as Ram Manohar Lohia and Jai Prakash Narayan, among others.

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