If not the Ram temple before Mr. Narendra Modi completes his five-year term on May 26 next year and general elections at least four to five weeks before that deadline, what is the next best option for the rulers?
A 151-foot statue of Lord Rama on the banks of Sarayu River in Ayodhya, standing on a 50-foot pedestal is proposed to be built, according to the Information Office of the U.P. Government. It will be the tallest statue in India when completed.
Yogi Adityanath, the ochre-robed Mahant of Gorakhpur and also Chief Minister of U.P., has a bagful of tricks. He plans to make the announcement, possibly with a crescendo and beat of drums on November 5 or 6 as a “Diwali gift” to the people of India at the site of the proposed statue. Has he invited anyone from the Centre to be on the river bank to support his historic announcement? His “master stroke” or political thought could be his belief that he can do what no one else can do.
Earlier, a grand Ramayana Museum had been promised by Mr. Mahesh Sharma, the Minister of State for Culture, at the expense of the Central Government. Is it still in the making? Has the Prime Minister endorsed the grandiose plan near the perceived Ram Janma Bhoomi, the place of birth of the Lord?
Has the Finance Minister released the funds for it? Or has the Financial Adviser to the Culture Minister, who must be at the Secretary or Additional Secretary level, released a token amount and further releases of funds might depend on economy drives by the government.
Could the Ram Nyas, the protagonists of the temple, not raise the funds? Could the RSS not collect the funds for the project? But apparently, only the temple is their central theme; the rest, including the museum and the statue, are side shows. Mr. Bhagwat engaged in negotiations with Muslim intellectuals and editors to agree to the construction of the temple; apparently he was heard, but not promised anything concrete. They are not the litigants, which the Nyas and Company are.
As the Supreme Court cannot afford to hear the plea for construction of the Ram Temple issue during contentious elections from now on, first to five legislatures in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telengana, Manipur and later in April and May to the Lok Sabha, the Ram Temple cannot be built at the perceived place of Rama’s birth or raised in courts. The U.P. Government may say that it has found a way out. They will build a huge statue of Lord Rama in Ayodhya.
All slabs and stones and even sections of the roofs and pillars of the proposed temple, made in Gujarat long ago, have been stacked up in the belief and hope that the main job could be completed in weeks, if not months. But the decision of the Supreme Court or a court to be constituted to settle the matter will come up for hearing in January, but even then the legal process cannot be rushed. As if in anticipation of all this, Mr. Mahesh Sharma, the Union Minister of Culture, had gone ahead to announce a couple of years ago that a Ramayana Museum will be built soon.
Whether that plan was initiated or not and was it opposed as an unacceptable sop to sidetrack the temple proper plan is not known. But Mahesh Sharma, the Prime Minister or Amit Sharma have not been heard on the issue? Did Yogi Adityanath overlook the Central Minister’s ideas, as they would not be in accord with his own thinking?>
Lalit Sethi is a Journalist of long standing and a commentator on Political and Social Issues.