IN ITS bid to outdo the BJP in the poll-bound state, the Congress on Thursday announced that it will develop Madhya Pradesh into a religious tourism hub by developing all places of pilgrimage and conserving them according to ancient Hindu beliefs if it comes to power.
Accusing the ruling BJP of using religion to whip up passions, the Congress alleged that the state government has made several announcements about developing religious places and temple towns during elections and by-elections but did nothing later.
PCC chief and former union minister Kamal Nath said his party was committed to installing MP on the international religious map by coming out with a roadmap to develop pilgrim centres into tourist attractions and conserve them in keeping with ancient beliefs.
The Congress has already announced that it will begin a 15-day Ram Van Gaman Path Yatra from Kamtanath in Chitrakoot on September 23, tracing the mythical route Lord Rama took on way to 14 year exile. It will develop and conserve all religious places along the route to attract tourists. It plans to build Ram Smruti Sangrahalaya, Ramleela Kendra, new Gurukuls and Ashrams along the route. The yatra will end in Chitrakoot.
Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said the BJP only made an announcement to develop Ram Van Gaman Path a decade ago but forgot about it. The party has formed a 40-member committee that includes seven legislators for the successful conduct of the yatra.
Oza said many ancient temples have been allowed to crumble in the last 15 years. She alleged that CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s announcement about closing down liquor shops along the Narmada River has remained on paper. “Liquor is being sold freely along the Narmada,” she alleged and added that Chouhan has made empty promises about developing Maihar and Chitrakoot among other temples towns as Smart Cities ahead of by-polls.
Ujjain and Omkareshwar in MP are among 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. Datia, Maihar, Orchha, Chitrakoot, Sanchi, Maheshwar and Bhojpur are among other places of religious importance in the state that the Congress said will be developed.
Former CM and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who recently undertook Narmada Parikrama — the circumambulation of the Narmada on foot — said the party will develop the 3300-km route by building Vishram Bhavans for the people who undertake the arduous journey.
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal claimed the opposition party had once denied the existence of Lord Rama but has remembered him ahead of polls.