Bengaluru, Nov 10: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the auspicious day of Diwali confirmed that Ayodhya will get a statue of Lord Ram, but he did not provide any fresh details on the project.
Yogiji, who is in buoyant mood after PM Modi inaugurated the statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat, said, "The statue (Lord Ram) will be placed indoors, inside a temple. It will be a grand statue and it will become a signpost for Ayodhya." He stated that the statue will be a 'tourist attraction' in Ayodhya.
Looks like the Centre and the state BJP government are in competition to woo Hindu constituency in the country and Uttar Pradesh respectively. The project was proposed by Yogi Adityanath after the central government earmarked funds for 'Ramayana museum' in Ayodhya in 2016.
As per the Central Government, the museum will be a part of the Ramayana circuit for which the Centre has sanctioned Rs.225 crore, with Rs.151 crore exclusively for Ayodhya, which is the hub of the circuit. The state government has identified a 25-acre plot for the museum which is some 15 km away from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex.
Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma during his visit Ayodhya in 2016, (few months before UP assembly elections) played down the political agenda behind the proposed project.
What surprises is when the political and legal fight is on for Ram temple, another grand statue for Lord Ram in Uttar Pradesh sounds unnecessary. Or looks like an attempt to console Hindu-right wingers who are increasingly growing impatient with the delay in the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya dispute.
Development of historical sites is the duty of the government but that can be done without proposing grand statues, especially in a state like Uttar Pradesh considered as one of the poorest states of the country.
World Bank report published in 2016, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India and is home to 200 million people, 60 million are poor. The pace of poverty reduction in the state has been slower than the rest of the country. The central and eastern districts, in particular, have very high levels of poverty.
According to the UNDP report released in the month of October, multidimensional poverty is particularly acute -- and significant -- in the four states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh ( BJP is in alliance with JDU in Bihar and three other states are ruled by BJP). These accounted for 196 million *MPI poor people -- more than half of all MPI poor in India.
Given the harsh reality of poverty in UP, another round of spending on statue looks a misplaced priority.
* The MPI looks beyond income to understand how people experience poverty in multiple and simultaneous ways. It identifies how people are being left behind across three key dimensions: health, education and living standards, and 10 indicators - nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, sanitation, cooking fuel, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets.