Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on August 5 after which the construction of the grand temple will commence. Several dignitaries including Union Ministers and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat are expected to attend the ceremony. However, BJP veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi will not visit Ayodhya for the ceremony but will attend the event via video conferencing, reported NDTV.
Interestingly, it was Advani and Joshi who had sounded the clarion call for a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya decades ago. Reportedly, Advani was on the dais erected at Ram Katha Kunj, barely 100 metres away from the then contested site. Sharing the stage with him were Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore and Vinay Katiyar. "The opening lines of Vijayaraje Scindia's speech were a signal to bring down the Babri mosque," said Santosh Dube who was one of the kar sevaks.
Advani, Joshi and others were named as accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. On July 24, Advani recorded his statement in a special CBI court in the case through video-conference. The court also recorded the statement of Murli Manohar Joshi.
According to the trust, the guestlist for the ceremony has been trimmed to around 50 VIPs because of restrictions on travel and gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, preparations for the ceremony are in full swing in Ayodhya. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will take stock of preparations today (Sunday).
Preparations for decorating the entire city is also being carried out under the supervision of Yogi Adityanath. On Saturday several areas of Ayodhya were illuminated with diyas (earthen lamps) and colourful lights.
Over the last month all the top officials of the state, including Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya have also visited Ayodhya.
On Saturday, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ayodhya, said that COVID-19 protocols have been put in place. "We have requested everyone to not let more than five people gather at a place. We have also planned route diversions at 12 places to ease traffic movement," the SSP said.
(With input from Agencies)