Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with the idol of Ramlalla in Ayodhya on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Puneet Mishra)
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath shifted the Ramlalla idol to a new site at Manas Bhavan on Wednesday morning, following which he drew criticism from the Opposition for reportedly not adhering to the social distancing norm amid coronavirus outbreak.
Photographs and videos of the ceremony that have gone viral show the CM standing close to a group of people, including Ayodhya District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha, security personnel, priests and members of Ram Teerth Kshetra Trust, office bearers of RSS and VHP.
The shifting of the idol clears the site to begin construction of the Ram temple. The new makeshift temple is bulletproof and made up of fibre, while the Ram Lalla idol was placed on a silver throne. The CM performed puja and also donated Rs 11 lakh cheque from his personal funds for the temple construction.
Speaking during the occasion, the Chief Minister said, “All of us are lucky to have witnessed the shifting of Maryada Purushotam Ram to his new throne in Ayodhya. This opportunity comes in ages,” adding that many generations had passed away with a dream to see the construction of the Ram Temple. He said that the first phase of that dream has been completed.
Seeking blessings of Ram to fight against the coronavirus outbreak, the CM said, “Whenever humanity across the world faces crises, challenges and difficult situations, it has taken inspiration and light from Ram.”
He further said that the country was preparing itself to fight the pandemic and the steps taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also been appreciated.
However, Congress state president Ajay Kumar Lallu questioned his visit to Ayodhya amid the lockdown across the country.
In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Lallu said in Hindi, “It was the first day of Navratri and it was my wish too to visit the goddess’s court.
But I listened to the PM’s appeal. The CM of UP does not. He went for darshan amid a crowd. In a scenario like this, why will the people of the state listen to the PM?”
Reacting the Lallu’s comment, CM’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar said, “He has tweeted at 10.30 am. The CM had returned to Lucknow at 7 am and had started work. The programme which he is talking about was held at 4 am when his entire party must be asleep. This programme in Ayodhya was a pre-planned one. And there were barely 10 people at the event and all precautions regarding the virus were taken by all.”
Other Opposition party leaders also criticised the CM for not presenting a “good example” by attending the ceremony.
“Yogi is telling people not to go to temples and mosques, and in view of the coronavirus epidemic this is absolutely right,” said Samajwadi Party’s state President Naresh Uttam. “But the chief minister himself is flouting what he is saying.”
Aam Aadmi Party’s state chief Sabhajit Singh said responsible people were not following the appeals they were making. He said even if all precautions were taken at the event, there would have been “some people” present there. “There would also have been officials in large numbers during the chief minister’s programme,” Singh pointed out. “It would have been better had the chief minister postponed this programme.”