Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to Ayodhya today after 29 years. In 1992, he had taken a vow that he would return to the holy city in Uttar Pradesh only when a Ram mandir was built.
The last time PM Modi visited Ayodhya when he was convenor of the Tiranga Yatra, campaign led by Murli Manohar Joshi to scrap Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Today also marks a year since the government decided to abrogate Article 370 and convert Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Last year, PM Modi visited the border of Faizabad-Ambedkarnagar to address a rally ahead of the national election but he did not visit Ayodhya.
The Uttar Pradesh government said that PM Modi is the first prime minister to visit ram janmabhoomi. The grand event meets a decades-long political promise core to the ruling BJP’s ideology.
A 40-kg silver brick, which will symbolize the beginning of the construction – is at the heart of today’s ceremonies. Images released on Monday showed the proposed temple will be a grand three-storey stone structure with multiple turrets, pillars and domes. The temple will be 161 feet tall and almost double the size of what was originally planned, its architect said.
The guest list for the grand event has been severely trimmed in view of coronavirus. Besides PM Modi, 50 VIPs including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will attend the ceremony.
BJP veteran LK Advani — who was the face of the movement to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya in the 1990’s — will attend the ceremony virutally. “Destiny made me perform a pivotal duty in the form of Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya in 1990 which helped galvanise aspirations, energies and passions of its countless participants,” he said.
Last year, the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead for a temple to be built by a specially appointed trust. The Centre was asked to give Muslims land elsewhere in Ayodhya for a mosque.