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No place for Ram mandir in BJP's poll campaign?

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Ayodhya, May 01: The BJP has been promising to build a grand Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya since 1991 even before the mosque was razed.

Since the temple movement picked up pace, this is the first time that the Ayodhya issue has remained just a mention in the BJP manifesto and has no place in any political rally.

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To add to it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed a rally in Ayodhya invoked Lord Rama, once using the Sri Lanka attack as example, and another time to seek blessings in Ram's bhoomi. Chants of Jai Shri Ram also resonated throughout the rally.

However, Modi kept on the issue of building a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, an issue the BJP has pursued aggressively in the past.

Modi also did not visit the makeshift Ram temple and Mahant Paramhans Das said it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister failed to give any message to the people about the BJP's commitment towards its construction.

While PM's rally was supposed to set the tone for party candidates in adjoining seats including Bahraich, Gonda, Kaiserganj, Barabanki, Faizabad, Lucknow, set to vote on May 6, the saints and seers of Ayodhya have made a fervent appeal to the PM to have 'darshan' of Lord Ram at Janmabhoomi.

This is Modi's maiden visit to Ayodhya after he became the Prime Minister of the nation. Earlier, he had visited Ayodhya on May 5, 2014 to address a public meeting in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

When Modi visited Ayodhya in May 2014 for his rally, a model of the proposed Ram temple was also kept on the stage, juxtaposed with a large Lord Ram image in the background. In fact, back then Modi started and ended his speech while invoking Ram, although he did not comment on the issue of the construction of the Ram temple.

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In November 2018, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and BJP ally Shiv Sena organised separate conventions in Ayodhya to pressurise BJP to facilitate the construction of the temple.

On November 24, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, accompanied by his wife and son, had arrived on his maiden visit to Ayodhya. He had called upon prominent saints/seers and paid obeisance at the Ramlala temple, while pledging support to the government on the temple issue.

The BJP's narrative around Hindutva coupled with the movement for Ram temple in Ayodhya has laid the foundation of the rise of the saffron party to its present stature.

Ram Mandir has featured in every Lok Sabha manifesto released by the BJP since 1996, the first Lok Sabha polls since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of 1992 which eventually led to the demolition of Babri Masjid and propelled the BJP to electoral success.

In UP, which sends 80 lawmakers to Lok Sabha, and where the Ram Mandir issue has the most traction, the BJP is facing a formidable caste-based alliance of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, which count Dalit, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Muslims among their supporters.

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