LUCKNOW: While the Ram temple in Ayodhya is a prominent issue for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to give a miss to the disputed site during his maiden visit to the district in the last five years.
The BJP's 2019 election manifesto promised to explore all possibilities within the constitutional framework and make all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The BJP's narrative around Hindutva coupled with the movement for Ram temple in Ayodhya has laid the foundation of the rise of the saffron party to its present stature.
As per the sources, the PM will address an election rally at Mayanagar Bazar in Gosainganj, 27 km away from proper Ayodhya on Wednesday morning. The segment, which he will visit, falls in Ayodhya district but votes for Ambedkar Nagar Parliamentary constituency.
Ambedkarnagar will go to poll in the sixth phase on May 12. However, proper Ayodhya will vote in Faizabad constituency in fifth phase on May 6. Even in 2014, PM Modi had addressed a rally on the periphery of Ayodhya, but he didn’t visit the birthplace of Lord Ram at the disputed site.
However, some political observers feel that there is no need to read a political message in PM skipping temple visit. “PM Modi doesn’t need to indulge in tokenism over temple issue which has always been pivotal to BJP’s politics. He doesn’t need to prove his Hindu credentials by visiting the disputed site,” says JP Shukla, a senior political analyst.
Many feel that while nationalism has been BJP’s narrative in ensuing elections, PM may be avoiding the visit to Ram Temple as it may bring the temple issue to the forefront. This may polarise the discourse especially when the SC-appointed mediation panel is at its work to settle the issue.
While PM’s rally is likely to set the tone for party candidates in adjoining seats including Bahraich, Gonda, Kaiserganj, Barabanki, Faizabad, Lucknow, set to vote on May 6, the saints and seers of Ayodhya have made a fervent appeal to the PM to have ‘darshan’ of Lord Ram at Janmabhoomi.
The Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas feels that if the PM doesn’t have time, BJP chief Amit Shah should offer prayers at makeshift Ram temple and at Hanuman Garhi before Ayodhya (Faizabad) goes to polls in the fifth phase on May 6.
“PM should seek the blessings of Ram Lalla to emerge victorious after May 23. It will also send a positive message across the country,” said Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas. The Nyas had spearheaded the Ram temple movement across the country in the early 90s.
On the contrary, Sharad Sharma, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s regional spokesperson, feels that it is okay so far the temple visit is on PM's schedule and he may decide at the last moment to visit Ram Lala. “PM Modi has been in the habit of springing surprises. Maybe after coming till Gosainganj, he changes mind and decides to have darshan of Lord Ram,” says Sharad Sharma.
However, he also feels that the PM shouldn’t be pressured for a temple visit as currently, he is involved in nation-building. “We need to have patience and back him in his endeavour,” says Sharma. The VHP has put the Ram temple issue on the back burner in this election. Moreover, he says that the temple issue is in court. “The Supreme Court appointed mediation process is going underway. In such a scenario, we have decided not to raise the Ram Mandir issue,” said Sharma.
Last month Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had held a roadshow in proper Ayodhya and visited Hanuman Garhi but skipped makeshift temple calling it disputed site.