With portraits of Lord Ram and a Ram temple providing the backdrop, BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi repeatedly invoked the Hindu deity while addressing his first poll rally in Ayodhya on Monday.
Hours after the rally, the Election Commission (EC) sought a report from the district authorities. By late evening, the EC had issued a notice to the BJP’s Faizabad candidate, Lallu Singh, for displaying the religious portraits. “Influencing voters of a particular caste or community through such means are violation of the Representation of the People Act and Model Code of Conduct,” said UP Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha.
Addressing the crowd, Modi said, “This is the land of Lord Ram where people believed that pran jaye par vachan na jaye (one can lose his life but cannot break a promise).” Stating that the Congress’s “maa-beta” government had not kept its promise to provide 10 crore jobs, he said, “Ram ki bhoomi me aise logon ko maaf kiya jata hai kya? Ram ki dharti par vachan ko toda jata hai kya?” (In the land of Ram, can you forgive people who break their promises? Can you break promises in Ram’s land?)
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Promising to tell the truth in “Ram bhoomi”, Modi said he would fight corruption. “I got the strength to make such a promise because I belong to a poor family and have seen how the children cry when food is not cooked in their house… I am chief minister of Gujarat for the fourth time and there is happiness in Gujarat. But my mother travelled in an autorickshaw to cast her vote. These are our values,” he said.
Stating that Mahatma Gandhi had advocated a “Ram Rajya”, Modi said, “Sarvajan hitay, sarvajan sukhay (happiness and well-being to all) was the mantra for the country, but vote bank politics ruined the nation. Divisive politics wasted 60 years of the country. Now a politics of unity is required that can unite people from different castes and religions.”
While he avoided any reference to Ram Temple, several other speakers, including Lalu Singh and Vinay Katiyar, said the BJP would build the temple in Ayodhya.
Modi also targeted the state government on the law and order issue. “Goondagardi should be checked. Around 5,000 people were killed in the one year of thebaap-beta government. Yeh hatya ka karobaar band hona chahiye,” he said.
— With ENS, Lucknow