The holy town of Ayodhya in politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh is set to feature prominently in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s plans in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. After the landmark 2019 Supreme Court verdict paved the way for the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, ending a decades-old dispute that saw a radical shift in the political landscape of the country’s most populous state.
The issue of Ram Mandir has featured in every poll manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections released by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 1996. Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s manifesto read, “We reiterate our stand on Ram Mandir. We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.” The “construction of Ram Temple” featured in the BJP manifesto for the 2012 and the 2017 Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections as well.
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Come 2024 and the BJP is all set to showcase Ayodhya as an excellent example of its unwavering faith in the Hindu cause as well as the development prowess of its ‘double-engine’ sarkar. And the preparations for it are underway in full swing already. As per the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government, the Chief Minister is set to establish Ayodhya as a global city and a tourist hotspot by 2024 with development projects worth Rs 20,000 crore already in progress.
As per a government statement, projects worth Rs 1,700 crore are slated to be completed in Ayodhya by year-end. Another significant development measure includes developing an international airport in Ayodhya by 2024. So far, Rs 1175 crore has been allocated behind the construction of Maryada Purushottam Shriram Airport.
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Other developmental works include the construction of the Shri Ram Janmanbhoomi corridor on similar lines as the recently launched Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi with several state departments working in tandem to improve the connectivity in and around Ayodhya.
As per an official statement by the UP government, the Uttar Pradesh Housing and Development Council is spending Rs 3,000 crore to develop a green field township in Ayodhya. “About 83 per cent of the land has been procured so far for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by March 2024. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is spending Rs 12,000 crore in Ayodhya,” the statement read.
Among the projects the NHAI is working on include the Rs 6657-crore Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama Marg widening and construction of the Rs 5924-crore 67.5 km long Ayodhya bypass.
The significance of Ayodhya for the BJP, even after the Supreme Court verdict, can be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on the eve of Diwali on Sunday to have “darshan” and perform a “puja” at the Ram temple. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi will also inspect the construction site of the Ram temple and later, perform a symbolic coronation of Lord Ram.
At around 6.30 pm, the prime minister will witness the “aarti” on the banks of the Saryu river, which will be followed by the launch of the grand “Deepotsav” celebrations by him, the statement said. The sixth edition of Deepotsav is being held this year and it is for the first time that Modi will be participating in the celebrations.