By Prarthana Mitra
Last month the Uttar Pradesh government decided to erect the tallest statue of Lord Ram on the disputed land in Ayodhya, and are reportedly finalising the details of the same for a grand announcement on Diwali.
The general plans to build a statue had been announced last year but without specific details, leading the media to dabble in speculation that it may be taller than Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity recently unveiled in Gujarat, perhaps even rope in the artist who designed it. Ostensibly, this is a potentially effective political move to appease and consolidate more Hindu voters before the nation goes to polls next year, the best bet for BJP after Supreme Court postponed the final hearing for the Ram Janmbhoomi verdict to next year.
Here’s what happened
Accompanying South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath arrived at the temple town for the grand Deepotsav celebrations, where clamour over the highly-anticipated temple grows and he faces a barrage of expectations.
The chief minister on Tuesday announced he would scout for viable locations to erect the 202m-tall statue of Lord Ram over this visit. The state government has reportedly already received presentations on the proposed project, he said, delivering the first of the “good news” he promised to bring last week. Certain locations have also been shortlisted including a section of the disputed land adjacent to the Ram Katha Museum, and another four-hectare area near Korean Queen Heo Hwang-ok’s memorial. Furthermore, Faizabad district will be called Ayodhya from this day forward, Adityanath announced, citing the sanctity and significance of the place for Hindus, just weeks after another historic city Allahabad was renamed as Prayagraj.
However, the primary objection to the statue has been raised by Mahant Satyendra Das, head priest of the makeshift temple on the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land, who has taken offence to the outdoor nature of the construction. “Lord Ram’s statue is not a political statue. It is not like any other statue of a politician installed across the country,” he said to the press, adding that a canopied-structure is mandatory.
According to the Hindustan Times, Das said, “Lord Ram’s place is in a temple and not in the open. The Lord’s statue in the open is not acceptable. Who is going to take care of the statue and perform daily puja of the deity?
Das has been performing ceremonies at the makeshift Ram Lalla temple for 25 years after the Babri Mosque standing in its stead since the 16th century was demolished. He is further known to have expressed concern over maintenance of the statue, given the “condition of the statues of politicians” across the country. Lord Ram’s statue should not be allowed to meet the same fate, he insisted.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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