NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party is launching a passionate appeal to his "big" statue of the Hindu god Ram, who promises a "big" statue of the Hindu god Ram's politically important state ahead of the country's national elections. next year.
PHOTO FILE: Yogi Adityanath (left), chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous of India, venerates artists dressed in Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Laxman on the occasion of the Hindu Festival of Lights, celebrated in Ayodhya, India, on October 18, 2017. REUTERS / Pawan Kumar / Photo File
Uttar Pradesh, a state in the north of the country with a population of 220 million and sending the largest number of legislators to the lower house of parliament, helped Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win its largest mandate in thirty years in 2014.
The political strategists believe that it is essential to keep its base, mainly Hindu, in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, but it is also worrying that the BJP is putting pressure on the religious issues that divide.
Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest dressed in robe and chief minister of the BJP of Uttar Pradesh, changed the name of the Faizabad district to Ayodhya, the place where Hindus believe that Lord Ram was born there are thousands of years. Before the change, Ayodhya was the name of a city of Faizabad.
Last month, he changed the name of Allahabad, where three rivers are considered sacred by Hindus, Hindu Prayagraj.
Faizabad and Allahabad were both Islamic names given to places hundreds of years ago by Indian leaders of the Muslim era.
"Ayodhya is our honor, our prestige and our pride," said Adityanath at an event in the city, declaring the name change sparked by the public's cheers. "Ayodhya is identified with Lord Ram."
He said the state would decide on the location of a statue of Ram that could become a monument of Ayodhya. He also promised to open an airport in the district that would bear the name of Ram.
Many leaders of the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the first Hindu group from which the BJP was born, are asking the government to issue a decree that would bypass the Supreme Court in order to be able to build a temple of Ram very controversial religious site in Ayodhya. The destruction of a mosque on this site by a frantic Hindu mob in 1992 unleashed deadly riots across the country.
For the moment, the site is under judicial control. It is feared that community tensions between the predominantly Hindu population and Muslims, the largest minority group in India with more than 170 million people, will re-emerge if the status quo is disrupted.
The movements are not limited to Uttar Pradesh. In the western state of Gujarat, the BJP government is also considering changing the name of the state trading center, Ahmedabad, given by a former Muslim leader.
And only last week, Gujarat unveiled the world's highest statue, a 400-million-dollar effigy of independence hero, Vallabhbhai Patel, almost twice as high as the New York Statue of Liberty in part of a BJP campaign to rename what he calls "forgotten" leaders. .
Report by Krishna N. Das; Published by Martin Howell and Toby Chopra