Twenty-nine years after his last visit to the temple town, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday laid the foundation stone of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Incidentally, the occasion, that is August 5, marks the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking after the main function the Prime Minister lauded the efforts and sacrifice made in the last few centuries to make the Temple a reality, but made no mention of the three leading lights of the Ram Janambhoomi Movement (1989-92), that is Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati.
However, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat did mention the name of Advaniji with respect, but regretted that he could not attend this historic occasion because of the Corona Virus. He showered praise on the present Prime Minister and recalled former RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras who had said that Ram Temple would become a reality after 20-30 years of non-stop struggle.
However, it was the Narendra Modi, who was the star attraction of the show as he paid first visit to Ayodhya after becoming Prime Minister. In fact he was in the pilgrim centre for the first time after his 1991 trip when he accompanied the then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi who was leading his Tiranga Yatra.
Modi went on in great details to highlight the significance of Ram throughout the world–be it the Muslim dominated Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China or Iran. He said that once the Mandir is built the whole city of Ayodhya would be totally transformed. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who spoke earlier, also made a similar reference.
Yogi, while welcoming the Prime Minister, the RSS chief and other dignitaries also lauded the efforts made by Modi in making this temple a reality. Modi said that not only the history is being written, but it is being re-written. He said that how the countrymen and women maintained peace after November 9 ruling of the Supreme Court last year. He also referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of establishing Ram Rajya and vowed to make India so.
In all 175 dignitaries, including 135 Hindu sants, were invited to the occasion. Two Muslims Iqbal Ansari, son of Hashim Ansari, who fought the prolong case, and Padma Shri Mohammad Shareef were invited to this ceremony. Shareef is known throughout for his works done in the field of performing last rites to the unclaimed bodies in Faizabad.
It needs to be mentioned that exactly 30 years before the SC judgement the first foundation laying ceremony for the Ram Temple was organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad on November 9, 1989. Then the foundation stone was laid by Kameshwar Chaupal, a Dalit VHP worker from Supaul in Bihar.
This was just a fortnight before the Lok Sabha election which voted Rajiv Gandhi out of power and brought V P Singh to power, albeit with the outside support of the BJP, whose tally jumped from two in 1984 to 89.