AYODHYA: In the latest round of politics over the Ram Mandir issue in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya, three trucks full of stones for the construction of the Ram temple in the town were brought into the city this week by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP. More trucks will follow, the organisation has said.
These three truckloads of stones were offloaded using cranes at the city's Karsevak Puram, constructed in the 1980s at the peak of Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The stones will eventually make their way to the Ram Janmabhoomi workshop 500 metres away. This is where stones have been carved and readied for the temple since 1990 - even before the Babri Masjid was demolished.
The VHP's move has come within three months of BJP hardliner Yogi Adityanath assuming power in Uttar Pradesh, and with less than two years to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The VHP says that the Akhilesh Yadav government had stopped allowing stones into Ayodhya, but all is well now with Adityanath in-charge of the state.
"With Yogi as CM and a BJP government at the Centre, the temple construction should start very soon," claims Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, who heads the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.
Yogi Adityanath was the first chief minister in over 15 years to visit the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site in May this year. A temple by mutual consent was the chief minister's prescription for the dispute.
Babri Masjid litigants, standing on the other side of the divide, wonder if it is time for them to also move in building material to rebuild the mosque. "When the administration also seems to be with them, the only option I see is that we should also start getting stones, carve them and start getting a Masjid constructed. What else is left now?" asks Haji Mehboob, a litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi - Babri Masjid case.
Because the case is in court, it is unlikely that the Ram Mandir stones will make their way to the disputed site anytime soon. But one thing is clear - ever since the Yogi Adityanath government came to power in UP, the politics over these stones has gone up many notches.
The politics over Ayodhya, however, is not limited to the BJP alone. Before he lost power in UP, Samajwadi Party CM Akhilesh Yadav also sanctioned a Ram Leela theme park for Ayodhya.