Within a few hours of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray challenging the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Ram temple, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath cleared the ambitious Lord Ram statue project in Ayodhya.
At the proposed height of 221 metres, the statue would be the highest in the world and 38 metre taller than the current tallest ‘Statue of Unity’ dedicated to Sardar Patel in Gujarat, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.
Late last night, Adityanath reviewed statue designs submitted by five different firms regarding the proposed Ram statue in Ayodhya, which has over the past few days been hogging limelight owing to mass mobilisation programmes by Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other saffron organisations to press the BJP government at the Centre for an early construction of Ram temple.
The CM selected the design, which proposed a bronze statue measuring 151 metres standing on a pedestal of 50 metres and covered under an umbrella hood of another 20 metres, thus totalling 221 metres. The selected design depicts Ram holding a metal bow in his left arm, while holding an arrow in his right arm.
Earlier, the state had even planned to lay the foundation of the statue on the eve of Diwali this year. In October 2017, the government had announced to build a 100 metre Ram statue near the banks of river Saryu. The state had also solicited funds from private and public sector companies under corporate social responsibility (CSR) corpus for tourism projects, including the proposed statue.
Yesterday, Thackarey had on his maiden visit arrived in Ayodhya along with his wife and son by a chartered flight from Mumbai. The Sena had booked two trains to ferry Shiv Sainiks to the temple town to demand an early construction of Lord Ram temple.
Uddhav sought the blessings of the seers and later performed arti on the banks of Saryu. In his address, Thackarey denied any political motive to his visit with 2019 Lok Sabha poll fast approaching.
However, the Sena president underlined he wanted to remind the government about unfulfilled promised on temple. Without explicitly naming any leader or political party, he said now four and half years have passed, yet there was no timeline about Ram temple.
Thackarey asserted that Hindus were not in the mood to wait any longer for the temple. Political pundits have, however, suggested that Shiv Sena was astutely trying to put BJP in a tight spot over the temple issue and emerge as a stronger force in Maharashtra, where it has other regional players including MNS and NCP to counter.
Today, VHP is holding a massive rally, where a gathering of almost 200,000 is estimated for taking the Ram temple pledge.