Yogi puts up a grand Diwali show

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath brought Ayodhya to the forefront with a grand, eyeball-grabbing religious-cultural spectacle without mentioning the controversial issue of Ram temple construction in his speech on Wednesday.

The elaborate show was organised by the state government. Artistes, including models, arrived from Delhi and Mumbai to recreate Lord Ram's homecoming on the eve of Diwali, as described in ancient epics. At least 380 artistes came from different corners of India and abroad (Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia) to perform in the 3-km-long Shobha Yatra. The setting was awash with religious symbolism.

Yogi's speech focused on the town's neglected economy and its civic problems galore.“For 70 years, many have been deprived of food, power connections and (are) without a roof above their heads. The Centre and state governments' efforts at providing them all this is Ram Rajya for them,“ said Yogi. He said: “It was Ravana rajya earlier. Now it is Ram Ra jya, where there is no discrimination on the basis of caste and religion.“

But even as he steered clear of the Mandir issue, observers felt that the political sub-text was not to be missed. Opponents linked the festivities to what they called political problems of BJP.

The CM said that despite having taught the world about Ram's righteous way of living, Ayodhya had become a target of negativity. UP chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath said for years, Ayodhya had been neglected by successive governments, an image which his government would change.

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