Ram Rajya Rath Yatra: The Vishva Hindu Parishad-backed ‘Ram Rajya Rath Yatra’ would be flagged from Ayodhya today. This is the first of its kind ‘Rath Yatra’ in the last 28 years aimed at seeking public support for construction of “grand” Ram Temple in Ayodhya. The Ram Ram Rajya Rath is basically a modified mini truck, which will travel through BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and later through Karnataka, which is likely to go to polls in April. In the last phase, the Yatra will also move through Kerala.
The 41-day and around 6000 km-long yatra will end at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu on March 25 after moving through six states. Several reports have said that no government representative, including Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, will participate in the yatra over fears that it may stoke controversies in the run-up to General Elections 2019. Several state assemblies are also scheduled to go to polls this year.
The ‘Ram Rajya Rath Yatra’ will be flagged off from ‘Karsevakpuram’ in Ayodhya by VHP ‘Mahamantri’ Champat Rai. The Karsevakpuram workshop was set up by the VHP in the 1990s to carve stones for the construction of a “grand” Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
A similar Rath Yatra was led by senior BJP leader LK Advani in 1990 from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya to garner support for the then ‘Ram Mandir’ movement. The yatra had passed through several states. The biggest fallout of the Ram Mandir agitation of the 1990s was the demolition of the Babri Mosque structure by kar sevaks in the temple town of Ayodhya in 1992, triggering a spate of riots at several places across India.
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The Ram Rajya Rath Yatra is starting weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to start final hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.
According to a report by news18.com, VHP’s yatra will seek support for issues like Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, “Ram Rajya”, and “inclusion” of “Ramayana” in the school curriculum.
Amar Ujala reported today that organisers of the yatra had not received the schedule of Uttar Pradesh CM by 5 pm on Monday. Organisers told Amar Ujala that they aim to construct a grand Ram Temple by “Ram Navami” next year. Ahead of the flagging off of the yatra, a “sant sammelan” (meeting of saints) has been called in Ayodhya.
Ram Rajya Rath Yatra is being seen as a political move to sway public mood in favour of the BJP. Advani’s Yatra in 1990 had helped BJP emerge as a dominant political force in the country. However, the saffron party has been downplaying the Ram Temple issue in its election manifestos for the last several years. Even in the manifesto for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections last year, the Ram Temple issue was relegated to the last pages of BJP manifesto.