The massive gathering in Ayodhya on Ram Navami planned for the first week of April may have been called off because of the spread of COVID-19, but the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Monday continued with its preparations for constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Sangh Parivar outfit made public a silver throne, which, it said, had been ordered by the erstwhile princely family of Ayodhya, where the idol of Ramlala will be kept until the new temple is constructed. The VHP said the chief of the erstwhile princely family, Vimalendra Mohan Misra, had paid for it and craftsmen from Jaipur crafted the silver throne, which weighs 9.5 kg. Defying advisories to exercise social distancing, several VHP leaders and priests came together to do a havan for the throne and showcased it to the media.
Opposition thumbs ups
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call for a Janata Curfew against coronavirus and cheering to support doctors and other health care workers had not only resonated with his band of committed supporters but also with Opposition leaders, it appears. UP Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu (pictured), who is a big critic of Modi, extended his support by clapping from his balcony on Sunday evening. He said the services rendered by doctors and nurses in the collective effort to beat the disease were commendable. He also demanded that the government immediately release a financial package for daily wage-earners and create isolation wards at local primary health centres. Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2017 UP polls, also supported the Janata Curfew call. However, on Monday the Shiv Sena came out strongly against the PM's call. Sena leader Sanjay Raut said people were not taking the social lockdown seriously as the PM had turned the situation of concern and worry into a "festival-like event".
Farewell to speeches
Parliament’s Budget session coming to a premature end because of the spread of coronavirus denied a special ritual to more than 50 Rajya Sabha MPs who are retiring in the first week of April. It is customary for retiring MPs to give farewell speeches. However, this could not happen on Monday because Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House after it returned the Finance Bill and Appropriation Bill to the Lok Sabha. There is some uncertainty over the Rajya Sabha elections on March 26, because that would require Legislative Assembly members in states to queue up to cast votes. Election Commission sources, however, said as of now the polling was on schedule.