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How BJP, VHP & RSS are mobilising people across India for Ram Lalla’s pran pratishtha in Ayodhya

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — along with its ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and right-wing affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) — is preparing for the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on 22 January.

The temple will open with the pran pratishtha, or consecration, of the idol of Ram Lalla, followed by a host of ceremonial events that BJP leaders believe will lead to a kind of cultural renaissance under the Modi government for India’s majority Hindu population, and prepare the groundswell of sentiment needed to win the general elections later in 2024.

Ayodhya has been the epicentre of Hindutva politics ever since the Sangh Parivar launched the Ram temple agitation in the 1980s.

Initiatives by the BJP-led central government in the wake of and after the inauguration ceremony include asking state units to prepare for free visit of devotees to the Ram Mandir (a promise made by the BJP in several state manifestos), installation of a toll-free number for registration of devotees for darshan, mobilisation of more than 10 crore people, chartered trains for darshan of Ram Lalla, plans for a massive tent city as part of ‘Ayodhya Chalo Abhiyaan’, social media outreach and live telecast of events.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior BJP leader said: “Every state has been asked to mobilise cadres to celebrate the Ram Mandir’s inauguration as a symbol of the end of slavery of Hindus. It will also symbolise a cultural renaissance under (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi.”

“The RSS and VHP had started the temple movement and it was under the Modi government that land was got for the temple’s construction. People should know the importance of such momentous work and years of struggle,” he asserted, adding that “social media communication to physical tour of devotees, all efforts are being made to mobilise people”.

VHP’s international working president Alok Kumar said: “After 22 January, families of more than one karseveks and people associated with the temple struggle will visit Ayodhya. In five lakh temples, the pran pratishtha will be celebrated and telecast live. Dates will also be given to states to arrange visit of devotees.”

The spectacle is further expected to help the BJP bridge the caste conflict it is embroiled in in several states, and which is threatening to disrupt its well-laid plans to consolidate the Hindutva vote.

Bihar releasing its caste survey last month has spurred demands for a national caste census, which the BJP has vetoed. It is also facing a challenge from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Maratha community in Maharashtra over reservation.

Gujarat BJP secretary Zaveribhai Thakrar told ThePrint that there will be celebration in every village and ward and the consecration ceremony will be telecast live.

“Recital of Hanuman Chalisa will take place in every nook and corner and pravachan (speeches) of saints will be organised in every village as India celebrates 500 years of the struggle to reclaim Ram’s birthplace,” he said.


Also Read: Infra boom to ‘Ramayana’ boat ride, Ayodhya is getting Rs 57,000 crore makeover to match Ram temple


VHP-RSS efforts, social media plans 

VHP and RSS cadres have been working unitedly for the grand show and its celebration among the common people. For this, several teams have been formulated and fanned out across states to spread the narrative around Ayodhya and Ram, according to VHP sources.

VHP’s Kumar explained that “10 crore people will be mobilised between 1 and 15 January via ‘akshat’ invitations”.

As part of this, worshipped akshat (rice) with a picture of Ram and an informative leaflet will be distributed to people who will also be requested to light diyas on 22 January and celebrate the temple inauguration, he said.

At the Dussehra public rally held in Nagpur in October, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had also suggested community celebration in neighbouring temples across India.

On 30 October, PM Modi launched the ‘Ram Naam Mantra Lekhan Yagna’ from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar, a campaign under which people would inscribe Ram’s name on pothis (notebooks) at the Somnath temple. These notebooks will then be sent to the temple in Ayodhya. Seven lakh people are reported to have already put down Ram’s name in the pothis.

As part of social media plans, 400 volunteers have reportedly been shortlisted for the outreach in Ayodhya by Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra, the trust looking after the construction and management of the temple.

The volunteers have been trained to distribute video reels prepared by different organisations on social media on the “struggle” for the temple’s construction, the Ram Janmabhoomi movement led by veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani, and mythological stories about Ram.

Around 5,000 social media influencers have also been tasked to spread word of the consecration ceremony celebrations across the country and even abroad.

Earlier this month, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel had visited Ayodhya and announced the setting up of a ‘Yatri Bhavan’ in the city for pilgrims.

Darshan schemes & special trains

In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where assembly election results are due, the BJP had promised the people a visit to Ayodhya.

The party unit in Chhattisgarh, where Ram is believed to have spent several years of his exile, is facilitating the visit under a “Ramlala Darshan Scheme”, while the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government already has the CM Teerth Darshan Yojana in place.

“In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP already has a teerth darshan scheme but temple inauguration can be a big booster for the party in mobilising people,” a senior state leader told ThePrint.

“Whether the party loses or wins the state election, it will facilitate the visit of people to Ayodhya as it will have a far-reaching impact. So chartered trains will be booked, according to the plans given by the VHP and RSS,” the leader added.

Addressing a rally in the state earlier this month, home minister Amit Shah had also promised that “the party will arrange Ram Lalla’s darshan for people free of cost if voted to power”. He had also pointed out that the “temple inauguration was happening under PM Modi”.

The party has similar plans for Gujarat.

A state BJP functionary said: “It has been our constant effort to awaken people’s conscience through organisational activities. Before the Lok Sabha poll, Ram temple inauguration will be one of prominent mobilisation programmes to reach out to people in the state.”

Ahead of the consecration ceremony, a nine-day Hanuman puja has been planned in Ayodhya where tribals from the state will be brought in for participation, said the functionary.

Former state minister Purnesh Modi asserted that “tribals have a special connection with Lord Ram and we will facilitate their travel in January”.

The Ram Mandir campaign is also being seen as a well-calibrated counter-attack to the opposition’s ‘jitni abaadi, utna haq(rights proportional to population) campaign.

In Bihar, BJP vice-president Suresh Rungta said, celebrations will be held across villages.

“Bihar has a special connection with Ram as Janaki’s birthplace was Motihari. So, not only karsevaks and their families will visit Ayodhya, but the party will celebrate across the state. Since appeasement politics has gained momentum in Bihar, devotees will celebrate the Hindu jan jagran (awakening) through this historic event.”

“This has happened due to the Modi government’s willpower and faith in Hindutva,” he added.

In Punjab, too, three years after separating from ally Akali Dal, the BJP is gearing up to reach out to the Hindu community through the Ram Mandir. The party has already started registrations in the state for the Ayodhya pilgrimage, with the first leg beginning from Ludhiana.

In Maharashtra, the BJP has planned to facilitate the visit of 15 lakh people to Ayodhya in a staggered manner after 22 January.

State unit chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule told ThePrint that “more than 15 lakh people will go to Ayodhya in a few months and trains will be arranged for their visit.”

A second BJP functionary said that “demand for hundreds of trains have been placed before the railways ministry to transport people to Ayodhya after inauguration of the Ram temple, while for short distances, buses will be booked”.

Party sources said that 36 trains had been planned from Mumbai to Ayodhya.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)


Also Read: Bihar caste survey is a ‘with us or without us’ question. Modi, BJP finding the answers


Source: The Print

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