October 22, 2017

India: Will Ayodhya again be the epicentre of Hindutva politics ?

National Herald

Ayodhya will be epicentre of Hindutva politics now

Yogi Adityanath with artistes dressed as characters from Ramayana.

Yogi is banking on Hindutva to emerge triumphant in the ballot battle over Bijli, Paani and Sadak

With the promise to revive Ram Rajya, the BJP has made an attempt to keep the Hindutva flame aglow in the politically sensitive state of Uttar Pradesh which holds the key to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream to return to power in 2019.
Ayodhya has now emerged as the epicentre of this plan. The way Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tried to recreate Treta Yug in this Kalyug by replicating the of Lord Ram along with Lakshman and Sita from `Vanvas’ was a real treat for the eyes. The proverbial Pushpak Viman was replaced with Pushpak chopper and it showered flower petals all over Ayodhya with people standing on their roof tops with folded hands soaking up the dose of Hindutva showered from the sky.
“It is unbelievable,” said Sumitra Sharma, 62, a resident of Ayodhya. “It was an unimaginable site to see Bhagwan Ram descending from sky along with Maiya (Mother) Sita. This must have happened in Treta Yug. Our scriptures have the full details. Yogi ji has just replicated that incident today,” she said, with her hands folded.
Yogi has been able to touch the raw nerve of the people. The actors who played the role of Ram, Sita and Lakshman may have been top models who are used to walking on ramps for top brands. But for the people of Ayodhya, they are their ‘Bhagwan’.
Namrata Verma, pursuing her graduation from a local college had volunteered to light diyas (earthern lamps) on the banks of the Sarayu river. She was enamoured with the beauty of Sita, model Anchal Ghai. Namrata did not know that the model had done ad campaigns for products like Gionee and Samsung but said: “Sita must have been beautiful like this lady.”
The hype created by the BJP government worked. In his almost 35 minute speech, Yogi spoke about Ram Rajya time and again but refrained from talking about Ram Mandir. He spoke a number of times about the negativity associated with Ayodhya but did not elaborate on what he meant by this negativity. He said that his government will respect the feelings of people (bhawanao ka samaan hoga) but did not explain what he meant by `Bhawana’. Whether this means construction of the temple is anyone’s guess.
But he began his speech with the chant of “Jai Sri Ram” and ended the speech with the same chant as the crowd roared in unison shouting “Jai Sri Ram.”
He spoke about Ram Lila being performed by artistes of different countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, going on to add that they treated Lord Ram as their ancestor and asked as to why we in India question one if he talks about Lord Ram. “This is a matter of pride for us that Lord Ram belonged to this area and everyone here is linked with Maryada Purshottam. This is our heritage and we should protect it,” he said.
He talked about bringing Kashi, Vrindavan, Shakumbari Devi, Naimisaryana and other places of historical importance in the tourism map but refrained from taking the name of Taj Mahal.
Hindutava is Yogi’s trump card this Diwali. He will visit Chitrakoot, another religious place, soon. In the last few months, he has visited Gorakhpur five times, Varanasi thrice, Vrindavan twice and Ayodhya thrice as well.
The big question is whether this exercise will bear fruits in the ballot battle. Will Hindutva emerge winner over development? Will people vote for religion rather than Bijli, Paani and Sadak? Only time will tell.