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BJP hijacking Aishbagh Ramlila event for political ends: Oppn

Opposition parties in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on Thursday alleged a design in Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the historic Aishbagh Ramlila here on Dussehra next week, saying BJP is trying to “hijack” a religious function to serve its political ends.

“The BJP should not use the religious occasion for furthering its political motives...his trip to Lucknow for Dusherra seems a bit illogical,” Samajwadi Party spokesman Ashok Bajpai said.

“Had he gone to his parliamentary constituency Varanasi, it would have looked logical but celebrating in Lucknow could only be termed as a move to gain political mileage,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister addressing the people during Dusherra festivities will look odd.

Echoing similar views that the BJP is “hijacking” the Dusshera function, Congress spokesman Maroof Khan alleged that the party was trying to use the religious platform for political purposes.

“Though the Army has made all Indians proud by successful surgical strikes in the PoK, the BJP is trying to take all credit for it,” he said, adding that the saffron party has always used religious functions for its advantage.

“Since the Prime Minister is deviating from the established practice and visiting poll-bound state, no other motive can be derived from it,” he said.

BSP supremo Mayawati has already cautioned the Modi government not to get carried away by the success of surgical strikes in the PoK.

“This is not the time for the Modi government to either celebrate in over-excitement or make the wrong attempt to take political and electoral advantage of the issue,” she had stated.

Breaking from tradition, the Prime Minister will attend the historic Aishbagh Ramlila in Lucknow, seen as yet another attempt to connect to the people of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

He will participate in the ‘aarti’ and then fire the symbolic arrow to burn the effigy of demon king Ravana, BJP vice president and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma, who is also the Ramlila’s patron has said.

Besides taking part in the Ramlila function, Modi will also be addressing the gathering at the mela ground, Sharma said.

Modi will be accompanied by Union Home Minister and Lucknow MP Rajnath Singh.

To stress that the function is an apolitical event, Sharma has also sent an invitation to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav but has yet to personally make a request to him.

BJP has also organised a public reception for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

“The workers are upbeat after the success of the Indian Army and it is natural for them to express themselves by according a warm reception to all those connected with it, including the Defence Minister,” a BJP spokesman said.

Usually, the Prime Ministers have celebrated the festival in the national capital.

Modi’s visit assumes an added significance because of assembly polls due next year in Uttar Pradesh where the saffron party is making a concerted bid to come back to power after a gap of 15 years and is up against ruling Samajwadi Party and main opposition Mayawati-led BSP. 

The Aishbagh Ramlila is also seen as a symbol of pluralistic culture, also called ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’, as Muslim rulers patronised it and allotted it space equal to Eidgah, which is situated right next to it.

In the absence of strong regional leaders, BJP is again banking on Modi’s appeal to power its campaign in the state, which it swept in the Lok Sabha polls riding on a national wave in his support but where it is perceived to have slipped since.

The party had earlier said that Modi will be in the state every month before the campaign picks up when he is expected to address rallies and attend more events.

In May, he had launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana from Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia under which cooking gas would be provided to poor families in the country.
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