VHP readies wishlist ahead of Yogi Adityanath’s visit to Ayodhyalucknow Updated: Jul 25, 2017 14:06 IST
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath during his last visit to Ayodhya on May 31.(HT File Photo)
As Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is expected to visit Ayodhya on Wednesday, his second visit to the temple town since becoming the CM, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is ready with its wishlist.
This time he will be there on the occasion of the death anniversary of Ramchandra Das Paramhans, high priest of Digamber Akhada who till his death in 2003 was synonymous with the temple movement that originally powered the political rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As the Gorakhpur MP and head priest of the Gorakhnath temple Yogi had mostly attended Paramhans’s death anniversary to pledge his association with the temple cause.
But this is the first time when he would be attending the function as the state’s chief minister, reason why the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the saints associated with the temple movement are planning to remind Yogi of his temple commitment.
“So much is expected from him. We would of course reiterate our temple demand and remind him of his commitment to the cause and the need to fast track temple construction by clearing hurdles,” VHP’s Ayodhya-based spokesman Sharad Sharma told HT on phone from the temple town.
Since becoming CM, Yogi has mostly soft pedaled the temple issue even though his government had lifted the ban imposed by the previous Samajwadi Party government on importing stones for temple from Rajasthan. UP’s commercial tax department had provided form 39, denied by SP government, required for such import despite criticism from the opposition.
The temple has figured in almost every election manifesto of the BJP since 1991. The party’s position has remained steady – the temple should either be built through a consensus or through a court judgment. But the party has been silent on VHP’s demand for construction of the temple through a law passed by Parliament, as it looks to expand its poll base and reach.
Yogi may also have to deal with angry saints who are upset that ‘Ram temple’ didn’t find a mention in the state’s tourism department guide on Ayodhya – an issue that they could flag in Yogi’s presence there. A tourism department official told HT that the Yogi government has got nothing to do with the booklet.
During his first visit in May, Yogi had gone to the makeshift Ram Lalla temple at the disputed site, becoming the first UP CM in 26 years to do so; the last being Kalyan Singh in 1991. Greeted by chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, Yogi had then also announced a ₹350 crore package for Ayodhya’s development, start of Saryu aarti modelled on the lines of a similar and more famous ‘aarti’ at Haridwar. Since then, the first budget of the Yogi government has made financial allocation for development of religious cities of Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura even as the CM accused the opposition parties of ignoring Ayodhya’s development due to vote bank considerations.
The visit also happens just before the BJP finalises an assembly seat for him to contest. While the probability of his settling for an assembly seat from Gorakhpur, from where he has been an MP since 1998, is high, the BJP’s Ayodhya MLA Ved Prakash Gupta’s statement that he was ready to vacate the seat for Yogi has opened fresh possibilities. “The party would reveal its strategy on or around August 5, when the voting for the vice president’s election is over,” a BJP leader said.