The Samajwadi Party has hit out at the BJP over President Ram Nath Kovind's four-day trip to Uttar Pradesh, which begins today. This is the President's second trip to his home state in just over two months; the first was in June, when he visited his hometown Kanpur and capital Lucknow by train.
President Kovind's four-day trip begins with the convocation ceremony of the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, but the highlight will be Sunday's train journey (the only one of this trip) to the temple town of Ayodhya, where the Ram Temple is being built.
According to the Rashtrapati Bhawan the President "will launch various projects of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Government of UP, including renovation/construction of Tulsi Smarak Bhavan and development of Nagar Bus Stand and Ayodhya Dham. Before concluding his visit to Ayodhya, the President will also visit the construction site of Shri Ram Temple and perform Pooja".
Pawan Pandey, a senior leader of the Samajwadi Party in Ayodhya, and a former minister in the Akhilesh Yadav-led state government, has accused the BJP of politicising the President's visit.
"I want to make it clear the President is free to travel anywhere he wants. But the BJP is trying to gain political mileage out of the President's visit. I have no hesitation in saying this does not feel like a trip being made by the President of India, but it appears to be a trip of a senior leader of the BJP. The BJP appears unwilling to even leave the post of the President aside in their pursuit of the 2022 Assembly polls," he told NDTV.
The BJP, however, has dismissed these claims.
"It is the opposition's job to make allegations of all sorts... let them do it. There is nothing of this sort. He is going to Gorakhpur (and) Ayodhya. He went to Kanpur earlier too. He is the President... it is his right to travel anywhere in the country," Lallu Singh, the BJP MP from the Faizabad Lok Sabha seat, told NDTV.
Faizabad is the twin town of Ayodhya.
On Friday President Kovind will unveil a statue of Dr Sampurnanand, a former Chief Minister, and inaugurate an auditorium at the Captain Manoj Pandey Sainik School in Lucknow. On the same day he will also be the chief guest at the 26th convocation of the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, a press release from Rashtrapati Bhawan said.
On Saturday he will lay the foundation stone for the Mahayogi Guru Gorakhnath AYUSH University and inaugurate the Mahayogi Gorakhnath Vishwavidyalaya in Gorakhpur, which is Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home turf.