After temple hopping and a promise to build cow shelters in every panchayat, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh is ready to "walk " in the footsteps on Lord Ram. The "Ram Van Gaman Path Yatra", which will begin later this month, will take the route taken by Lord Rama on his way to the 14-year exile. While the BJP called it a low stunt before the assembly elections, the Congress has defended the programme, saying it was trying to wake the state's latent potential for religious tourism.
The journey will begin from Chitrakoot, where Lord Ram stayed for a long while, probably from September 21, sources said. It will cover more than 35 assembly constituencies and end on October 9.
Party president Kamal Nath, along with senior leaders like Digvijay Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajay Singh will participate in the yatra which will commence from Sphatik Shila -- the rock on which Lord Ram and Sita said to have rested -- in Chitrakoot. It will pass through Ramghat, Gupt Godavari, Sati Anusuya and Maihar temple.
The BJP said the Congress move is just meant to gain political milage. BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari said, "They should support Ram Mandir. It is just a political stunt. They are trying, ahead of elections, to woo voters in a Hindu-majority state."
Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said, "For the Congress, religious sentiments are very personal. We have never politicised such issues".
The BJP government has promised the track 12 years ago, but everything is on paper, she said. "Nothing has materialised and we wish to bring Madhya Pradesh on the map of the country as far as religious tourism is concerned," she added.
The Congress said it plans to develop religious places connected to all religions, and it can be a way to generate employment for the young people in the state.
On September 3, Madhya Pradesh Congress President Kamal Nath said the party would build cow shelters in every panchayat of the state if elected to power.