Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who arrived in Ayodhya this morning, offered prayers at the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed Ram Janmbhoomi - Babri Masjid site for nearly 10 min. The Chief Minister's Ayodhya visit, his first after taking charge, comes just a day after senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and union Minister Uma Bharti were charged by a Lucknow court with conspiracy to demolish the 16th century Babri mosque in 1992.
- Lucknow court charged LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti with conspiracy
- Yogi Adityanath greeted senior BJP leaders as they arrived in Lucknow
- Yogi Adityanath has been considered a Hindutva symbol of BJP for years
Yogi Adityanath was waiting with flowers to greet the BJP veterans as they arrived at a Lucknow guest house on Tuesady morning and held a meeting with them before they left to appear before court. The BJP, which now rules both at the Centre and in UP after its massive sweep of the assembly elections in the state in March this year, has defended its leaders saying they "are innocent and will come out unscathed".
The party's lawmaker from UP, Sakshi Maharaj, turned up at the Lucknow court for a "darshan (divine vision) of Advaniji" he said. Sakshi Maharaj later said, "No power on earth will be able to stop the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya,"
The Chief Minister's visit to Ayodhya immediately after trial began in the case on Tuesday has added to speculation on whether the Ram temple agenda, pushed to the backburner by the BJP for years amid a court battle, is being brought back by the party with an eye on the 2019 national election. It hopes to replicate its unprecedented feat in the last election of winning 71 of the state's 80 parliament seats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term in 2019 and UP will be crucial.
BJP sources in Lucknow denied any link between Tuesday's appearance in court of the party leaders and the Chief Minister's visit to Ayodhya on Wednesday. His programme, they argued, was arranged earlier. Yogi Adityanath will attend birthday celebrations of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, who too is accused of conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The Nyas is a trust formed to promote and oversee the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya
Yogi Adityanath's first stop was the Hanuman Garhi temple, the second most famous religious site in Ayodhya and from there he drove to the makeshift Ram temple at the disputed site. The Chief Minister, who also inspected the condition of Saryu river in the temple town, will address BJP workers and attend a law and order meeting before returning to Lucknow later this evening.
Yogi Adityanath has for many years been considered a Hindutva symbol of the BJP and his poll campaigns have consistently held the promise of the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Many Hindus believe that the Babri mosque was built over the birthplace of Lord Ram and they want a temple to be built there.
In December 1992 the Babri mosque was pulled down by karsevaks or right-wing volunteers.