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Over 325 UP legislators offer prayers at Ram temple in Ayodhya

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Ayodhya/Lucknow: Over 325 Uttar Pradesh legislators barring those from main opposition Samajwadi Party offered prayers at the newly-built Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Enthusiasm was visible among Ayodhya’s residents who showered flowers as the legislators arrived the temple town.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who joined his cabinet ministers in Ayodhya after arriving from Pune, visited the Ram Mandir with them and paid obeisance, as people in the temple complex chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

In a post on X, Adityanath said he along with his colleagues in the government offered prayers at the “grand and divine temple of Prabhu Shri Ram Lalla”.

In a 14-minute video shared on X by Adityanath, some legislators, including the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Satish Mahana, were seen singing the bhajan ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’. Some legislators sat on the stairs of the temple and posed for group photographs.

A source in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly told PTI, “A little over 325 legislators, both MLAs and MLCs, offered prayers to Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Wives of some of the legislators also accompanied them. In all, the contingent size was over 400.” Members of both houses of the Uttar Pradesh legislature, who had arrived in Ayodhya from Lucknow in 10 buses, are now heading back to the state capital, sources said.

Some of the party leaders who visited the temple on Sunday include Raghuraj Pratap Singh of Jansatta Dal Loktantrik, O P Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, Aradhana Mishra of Congress, Umashankar Singh of BSP, and Rajpal Singh Baliyan of RLD.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the Ram temple, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “Got the much-awaited and divine ‘darshan’ of Lord Ram Lalla. May the devotees of Lord Ram receive get His blessings, and in 2024 (Lok Sabha elections), the Modi government is formed (at the Centre), and 400-plus seats are bagged. May the figure of 300-plus seats be achieved (by the BJP) in UP in 2027 (assembly polls).” Speaking to reporters in Ayodhya, Principal Secretary (Home) Sanjay Prasad said the group did not visit the Hanumangarhi temple located near the Ram Mandir “due to paucity of time and owing to the crowd there”.

On the Samajwadi Party (SP) declining the trip, Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak and Maurya said it is because they had ordered firing on ‘Ram bhakts’ (devotees of lord Ram) and this is part of their minority appeasement politics.

MLA Aradhana Mishra of Congress, however, sought to defend the SP’s stand, saying one can go to Ayodhya whenever convenient for them.

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), an ally of the SP, however, was a part of the Ayodhya trip.

Before leaving for the temple town, Maurya, told PTI “… If anybody is not going, it is the ‘samaaptwaadi party’.” He was apparently referring to the SP whose party supremo Akhilesh Yadav had declined the invitation to Ayodhya extended to members of both Houses by the chief minister and the speaker.

With the exception of SP leaders, most legislators had given their consent to go to Ayodhya.

Speaking to reporters before leaving from Lucknow, Mahana said, “This is a matter of faith. Nobody could be forced to visit the ‘darbaar’ of any God. If a person has not come due to various reasons, then it is his matter.” “Yesterday, the Leader of Opposition (Akhilesh Yadav) had said in the Assembly that Speaker sir, I will not come even if you invite. But, I had told him that when you go to Ayodhya, take me along with you,” the speaker added.

During a discussion on the budget in the House on Saturday, the Speaker had said to Yadav, “You come with us to Ayodhya tomorrow.” To this, the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly, said, “We will go only when Lord Shri Ram calls us.” Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak said, “After the consecration of Lord Ram in the newly-constructed temple in Ayodhya, we (all the legislators) had decided to go for a ‘darshan’.” “The way in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made India’s cultural heritage bloom, everybody is very happy and going to the temple,” he said before boarding the bus to the temple town.

BSP’s Umashankar Singh told PTI, “Ours (BSP) is a secular party. We respect all religions. Today, on the directives of the speaker, we are going (to Ayodhya). Tomorrow, if the best mosque of the world comes up there, we will go there as well. But there should be no politics over this.” Arrangements for the Ayodhya visit were made by the Minister of State for Transport (Independent Charge) Dayashankar Singh, an official statement said.

Jansatta Dal Loktantrik MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh said, “Just look at the happiness on each and every face here. It is a big honour not only for me, but all the legislators (who are going to Ayodhya).” The Uttar Pradesh MLAs had originally planned to pay a visit to Ayodhya on February 1, a day before commencement of the budget session, but later postponed the trip to avoid inconvenience to people thronging the town to pay respect to Lord Ram.

In the 403-member UP Assembly, the BJP currently has 252 MLAs, its allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) has 13 MLAs, while the NISHAD party has 6 MLAs. The main opposition party — the Samajwadi Party has 108 MLAs.

Rashtriya Lok Dal has 9 MLAs, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party has 6 MLAs. The Congress and the Jansatta Dal Loktantrik have 2 MLAs each, while the BSP has 1 MLA. Four seats are vacant. (PTI)

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