Breaking away from tradition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fire the arrow at Ravan’s effigy at the Aishbagh Ramlila Ground here in Lucknow instead of the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi this year. This assumes significance due to the upcoming assembly elections in the state. According to sources, Modi will participate in the Ramlila programme at Aishbagh in Lucknow on October 11.
Political analysts see a masterstroke in it. “It cannot get bigger than this. The fact that Uttar Pradesh elections are important for any political party is given. But the fact that the Prime Minister would want to celebrate such an important festival away from the national capital shows the significance that the Bharatiya Janata Party attaches to the elections in the state. It’s a kind of a do-or-die for them,” said an observer.
Recalling the times when former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would visit Lucknow during festivals, another analyst said that since Vajpayee represented Lucknow five times in the Lok Sabha, he had a special bond with the people. “Modi’s decision is a masterstroke,” he said, adding that this calculated move will pay rich political dividends for the BJP. “By agreeing to attend the Dussehra event in Lucknow, Modi will reach out to a larger constituency of Vajpayee followers who are spread across the state,” he added.
Amid the recent infighting within the ruling Samajwadi Party, Modi would like to make the most of the tussle and gain ground for the BJP, which has been out of power in the state for almost 14 years.
Lucknow is currently represented by Union home minister Rajnath Singh who has exhorted people to end BJP’s exile in the state. The BJP last ruled UP when Rajnath Singh was chief minister till 2002. Since then power has swapped between Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party. The symbolism of Modi’s arrival during Dussehra and his firing the arrow at Ravan’s effigy will not be lost among the electorate. Lord Rama had to suffer a 14-year-exile and Modi’s visit will be likened to him coming to end BJP’s exile from power in the state.
Even though Lucknow is famous for its nawabi connections, as per folklore, it was Lord Rama’s brother, Lakshman, who laid the foundation of Lucknow near the bank of Gomti river. Lore has it that Lucknow was earlier known as Lakshmanpuri.