Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has avoided making a direct reference to the issue of Ram temple at Ayodhya during past five years, chanted "Jai Sri Ram" as he addressed a huge gathering at the Aishbagh Ramlila Ground here yesterday, throwing indications that 'Hindutva' will be a key electoral plank for the BJP in 2017 polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Interestingly, PM Modi invoked Lord Ram during his speech, which mainly concentrated on terrorism and talked about the evils against women and girl child, just 125-kms away from Ayodhya where his party wants to built a grand temple dedicated to the deity.
Addressing a massive crowd at the Aishbagh Ramlila Ground, the Prime Minister chanted ‘Jai Sri Ram’, which enthralled all, including the members of BJP as well as the RSS who were present during the event.
This was probably the first time that Modi chanted 'Jai Sri Ram' on a public platform. While some saw PM’s invocation of Lord Ram as ''politically motivated'', alluding to the Ayodhya Temple issue, party leaders said that it was not the case.
While PM Modi's political opponents, including the Samajwadi Party, have already criticised the Lucknow event as politically motivated, the chanting of 'Jai Sri Ram' has surely come as a big boost for the BJP, which wants to seize power in the state in the coming assembly elections in 2017.
Interestingly, the BJP is still claiming that the next battle for UP will be fought on the issue of development and the party will not stick to its 'Hindutva' ideology as it had done in past.
“The chant of 'Jai Sri Ram' may be linked to Ayodhya temple movement, but the PM invoked Lord Ram at Ramlila. There is no political angle to this,” a BJP leader said.
“What would you expect him to say at a Ram Leela? It is a religious function,” said BJP national secretary Srikant Sharma.
The announcement of 'Jai Sri Ram' by PM Modi may have also pleased the party's ideological mentor – the RSS – which is eager to revive the Ram Temple issue as it has taken a backseat in Prime Minister's current scheme of things.
Exulting over Modi’s 'Ram' chant, RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said the PM had "reflected" what people were celebrating in the country on Dusshera – “Triumph of good over evil”.
Coming out in support of PM, Sangh ideologue Rakesh Singh said, “Sri Ram is an Indian cultural hero. If anybody embodies Indian ideals, it is him. For PM to chant his name is reiteration of Indian values. There is nothing sectarian about Lord Ram. If Indonesia, Malaysia can recognise Ram, why can't India?”
Importantly, BJP chief Amit Shah had too said recently that 'development' will be the key electoral plank when the party goes into the poll mode in 2017.
Nevertheless, PM Modi's chanting of 'Jai Sri Ram' with special reference to Ramayana, equating the battle of Lanka to the battle against terrorism, and his strong stand against terrorism, has certainly given BJP a boost ahead of crucial polls in UP.
In his speech at the Ram Leela, the Prime Minister also gave a whole new social dimension to Ravan, equating killing of the girl child as an act the demon king would have committed.