Yogi Adityanath in Ayodhya: Five things to know about Uttar Pradesh CM’s visit
Yogi Adityanath will be the first Uttar Pradesh chief minister to visit the Ayodhya’s disputed Ram Janmbhoomi- Babri mosque site in 15 years.Updated: May 31, 2017 10:57 IST
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is on Wednesday visiting the makeshift Ram Lalla temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The visit comes a day after a CBI court in Lucknow framed criminal conspiracy charges against BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and others for bring down the 16th century Babri mosque.
The two events have again thrust the issue of Ram temple, central to the BJP’s rise in the country, into the spotlight.
Here are five things to know about Adityanath’s visit:
First visit in 15 years
The saffron-robed Adityanath is expected to offer prayers at the makeshift Ram temple. He will be the first Uttar Pradesh chief minister to visit the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi- Babri mosque site in 15 years.
Eyebrows were raised when the BJP chose to name Adityanath, a known Hindu hardliner, as the chief minister of a state which has a 20% Muslim population. He is the also the head priest of an important Hindu temple in eastern UP’s Gorakhpur.
The visit comes a day after a CBI court in Lucknow charged BJP stalwarts LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and water minister Uma Bharti and nine more leaders with conspiring to raze the Mughal-era Babri mosque in 1992.
Adityanath met Advani, Joshi and Bharti outside the court in a sign of support.
Thousands of kar sevaks, or Hindu volunteers, demolished the mosque which many Hindus believe was built on top of the birthplace of god Ram.
The demolition on December 6, 1992 triggered one of the deadliest communal riots in India, killing more than 3,000 people. The disputed 2.7-acre site remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint.
Eyes on 2019?
The Supreme Court in April revived the case against Advani and others 16 years after a CBI court dropped charges of criminal conspiracy, saying the demolition shook “the fabric of the Constitution”.
The top court has asked the trial to be completed in two years, ordering daily hearings. The case would have been decided or would be in the final stages when India would head to polling booths in 2019 to decide if the BJP should get another term.
The temple push
The promise of a temple to god Ram in Ayodhya, which many believe is his place of birth, has been pivotal to the BJP’s rise.
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 its demand for construction of the temple through a law passed by Parliament, as it looks to expand its poll base and reach.
But the case against Advani, Joshi, Bharti and others will keep the temple issue on slow simmer. With Adityanath in Ayodhya, temple will again occupy centre stage.
The BJP is standing by its leaders and has ruled out Bharti’s resignation from Modi’s council of ministers. If the leaders are acquitted, the party can take a high a moral ground. In case of a conviction, the leaders could emerge as Hindutva heroes. Whatever the outcome, the BJP stands to gain.
In visiting Ayodhya, Adityanath is following his ministers’ lead. In their around three months in office, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, energy minister Shrikant Sharma, agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi and social welfare minister Ramapati Shastri have all visited the makeshift temple at Ayodhya.
A regular at Ayodhya, Uma Bharti cancelled her April 19 visit after announcing she would be seek Ram Lalla’s blessings after the Supreme Court’s order.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made a brief stop at Ayodhya on September 10, 2016 during his Deoria-Delhi Kisan Yatra. He paid obeisance at the nearby Hanuman Garhi temple but did not visit the disputed site.
(With inputs from Kumar Uttam)
First Published: May 31, 2017 10:57 IST