Temples to the tourist circuit: CM Bhupesh Baghel scripts a Ram katha to crush BJPs

On April 10, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel inaugurated the renovated Shivarinarayan Temple complex as part of the Congress-led state government’s ambitious Ram Van Gaman Paryatan Paripath, a tourist circuit envisioned to map the route that would have been traveled by Lord Ram in the present. -day Chhattisgarh during his 14-year exile from Ayodhya.

The Shivarinarayan Temple is the second among nine temples across the state under the first phase of this project, which are to be constructed or renovated at a cost of Rs 134 crore.

Bhupesh Baghel inaugurated Shivarinarayan Temple in a three-day event held this year in Janjgir Champa district in Rama Navami.

Inaugurating the renovated temple at a site associated with Shabri of the Ramayana epic, CM Baghel said: “Memories of Maryada Purushottam Lord Ram are scattered in every particle of Chhattisgarh soil for he had spent most of his exile in Chhattisgarh… Ram is special for every person in Chhattisgarh. This project belongs to everyone, we have no personal interest in it, it is a popular program, a popular project.

Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Congress, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Shivarinarayan Temple, political pulse, India news, Indian express Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel making aarti from the confluence of the river at Shivarinarayan.

After unveiling the renovated temple, Baghel also opened a Ramayana interpretation cafe, where people could study and discuss several aspects or versions of the epic.

The Department of Culture has also launched a program of Ramcharitmanas Mandali recital competitions under which such competitions were held for the first time in March this year from gram panchayat to district levels and cash prizes from a worth of lakhs were given to the participating groups.

One of the first decisions Baghel made after taking office as CM in December 2018 was to launch the Ram Van Gaman tourist circuit program under which the renovation or construction of 75 temples at sites associated with the Ram’s exile route across the state has been proposed.

To celebrate the second anniversary of his government, Baghel inaugurated a renovated temple in Chandkhuri near the capital Raipur on December 17, 2020, which

has the only temple in the country dedicated to Kaushalya, the mother of Ram. It was the first temple that was redeveloped under the Ram Van Gaman program. A special yatra was organized on this occasion, with two vehicles departing from the north and south of the state to collect soil from nine temple sites in various districts en route to Chandkhuri. The entire Baghel cabinet had then traveled to Chandkhuri to plant 9 rudraksh trees on soil brought from across the state.

Inaugurating the renovated Chandkhuri temple, Baghel said, “Ram could be a political issue for many in order to garner votes. But Ram is embedded in our culture. In this state, Ram is bhancha (nephew), he is vanvasi; we know the ram of Gandhi, the ram of Kabir, the ram of Tulasi and the ram of Shabri. We are followers of Mahatma Gandhi, who could only speak Ram’s name when he died.

Marking a contrast to the BJP’s ideology and approach to Ram, the Baghel dispensation retained the color scheme of this entire event as yellow versus the BJP’s saffron, even though it used a “calmer, more composed image.” by Ram.

Bhupesh Baghel, Chhattisgarh Congress, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Shivarinarayan Temple, political pulse, India news, Indian express Bhupesh Baghel has been praised by the Ramanami community for Rama Van Gaman Paryatan Paripath.

A devout follower of Lord Ram, Baghel has always described Ram as “bhancha” or “bhanja” in reference to a belief that his mother Kaushalya was a princess of Kosala which encompasses the Chhattisgarh region. In the other Ram-centric move of the Baghel dispensation, the head of the State Gau Seva Commission, Mahant Ram Sundar Das, announced a reward of Rs 11 lakh if ​​anyone can decipher the exact date of birth from Kaushalya.

Suing the main opposition BJP party, Baghel argued that Ram could not be “owned” by anyone, seeking to wrest the Ram issue from the saffron party to gain political advantage for Congress, the tourism and culture departments of the state deploying various populists. schemes to support its offer. It is another matter that in the process he has drawn criticism from some quarters for indulging in a “Hindutva soft” policy. Some of these projects have also drawn backlash from the tribal community, which makes up 31% of the state’s population.

A section of tribes have sought to resist the state government’s measures, accusing the government of trying to “co-opt tribal culture into Hinduism”. The first sign of such protests surfaced during the special yatra held before the inauguration of the Chandkhuri temple. When the vehicles attempted to take land from villages in Sukma district, the tribals protested. Sol, considered a deity in tribal customs, could not be allowed outside their village boundaries, they said. When the officials forcibly took the ground, they chased their vehicles. In Kanker, the tribals sat on the road and unloaded soil from various tribal villages in the Bastar division before leaving the authorities’ vehicles to leave the scene.

The Adiwasi Samaj of Sukma also wrote to the governor in March this year, complaining about the Ramayana recital competition, citing their autonomy over the issue of culture in their regions under the fifth schedule of the Constitution. Their protest forced the event to be canceled in their block.

Even Baghel’s father, Nand Kumar Baghel, 86, opposes the Congress government’s “political appeasement for Ram”. Police in Raipur had arrested him last year in Uttar Pradesh in a case related to his allegedly derogatory remarks against Brahmins. Senior Baghel has been campaigning across the state for years to prevent the burning of Ravan’s effigy. Several villages in the tribal belt also have special rituals involving Ravan. Even the famous Bastar Dussehra in Jagdalpur is basically about the local tribal goddess.

It is another matter that this time in a first in Jagdalpur, seat of Bastar district, on April 10, the Ram Navami procession saw celebrations continue late into the night under banners of various shades of orange , with young people dancing in the streets to DJ-set music, loudspeakers and firecrackers.

After losing to Congress in the recent Khairagarh poll, the BJP currently looks crestfallen. While the saffron party has been silent on the Baghel government’s Ram-centric moves, senior BJP leaders are said to be of the view that this would play into their party’s favor and bolster its ideological agenda. Baghel, however, clearly appears to be pursuing the policy on Ram to turn the tide on the BJP and gain an advantage in the assembly elections scheduled for December 2023.

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