As the chorus for early construction of a Ram temple at the disputed Ayodhya site grows within the Sangh Parivar in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath lent weight at ground zero, announcing Tuesday that Faizabad district, home to the pilgrim town, will henceforth be known as Ayodhya district.
He also declared that Ayodhya will have its own airport named after Ram and a medical college named after Ram’s father King Dashrath. Cheering the announcements, people in the crowd raised slogans of “Yogiji ek kaam karo, Mandir ka nirman karo (Yogi, do one job: build the temple)”.
“Ayodhya is a symbol of our aan, baan aur shaan (honour, pride and prestige). Nobody can do injustice to Ayodhya,” Adityanath said at the Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya which was also attended by South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook, UP Governor Ram Naik, Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon and Minister of State (External Affairs) V K Singh.
“Hum ne in smritiyo ko banaye rakha hai isliye, jis se Maryada Purushottam Bhagwan Ram ko koi aap ki smritiyo se chheen na paaye. Lekin keval naaro mei hum apne aaradhya devon ko seemit na rakhein (we have preserved these memories so that no one can snatch Lord Ram from your memories. But we should not limit our gods to just slogans),” Adityanath said.
Several projects, including redevelopment of Ram-ki-Paidi and stopping disposal of sewage in the Saryu river, were launched at the event.
The Chief Minister and the South Korean First Lady laid the foundation stone for a memorial to Queen Heo Hwang-ok who, according to a Korean legend, was an Ayodhya princess who married King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya. The memorial will be built over an area of 10,000 sq m.
“Those who divert from their past are like Trishanku. We are here in Ayodhya to connect with our history. Delegates from Korea are here to connect with their past. Korea is witness that Ayodhya’s recognition should be only in the form of Ayodhya… I want to tell you all, from today this district’s name will be known as Ayodhya,” Adityanath said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started a bus service from Janakpur in Nepal to Ayodhya and this time, “on the occasion of the wedding of Ram and Janaki”, he would himself go to Janakpur.
Kim Jung-sook, on her part, thanked Prime Minister Modi for the welcome he accorded and congratulated the Chief Minister for the Deepotsav.
“This July when I came with the South Korean President, Prime Minister Modi welcomed me with great zeal. This time, even after being busy in administrative work, he made time and met me. I am thankful to him. I also thank India’s First Lady Savita Kovind and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj for helping me with my India visit. This is the start of a new era for India-Korea relations,” she said.
The Deepotsav, on the eve of Deepawali, saw a record three lakh diyas being lit simultaneously. More than 5,000 school students and NCC cadets participated in the event.
Adityanath’s announcements came a week after he said “sometimes, justice delayed is equivalent to injustice” while referring to the Supreme Court’s decision to defer hearing on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit.
He said he was of the opinion that the issue should be resolved at the earliest. On the demand that the Centre bring a legislation to allow construction of a Ram temple, he said there exist “other options”, and the best step should be considered.
“Ram Janmabhoomi se jo juda hua mamla hai woh mananiya uchchattam nyayalaya mei hai. Samay par mila nyay. uttam nyay maana jata hai. Nyay mei deri, kabhi, kabhi anyay ke saman ho jata hai (The issue related to Ram Janmabhoomi is in the Supreme Court. Justice which is timely is considered the best justice. Sometimes, justice delayed is equivalent to injustice),” Adityanath had said in a video released on his Twitter handle.
The Supreme Court has ordered listing of appeals against the Allahabad High Court order in the Ayodhya title suit before an “appropriate bench” in the first week of January 2019 to fix a date for hearing.