Bhopal: The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has released funds worth Rs 7 crore for the development of the much-hyped ‘Ram Van Gaman Path’ in the state after the Supreme Court verdict cleared the path for a Ram temple in Ayodhya on November 9.
The state government’s move is being perceived as the ruling party’s attempt to woo Hindu voters after the announcement of construction of 1,000 cowsheds, hike in honorarium of priests, priest welfare fund, revamp of Ujjain’s Mahakal temple and a separate trust for temples and rivers. The state government has decided to speed up its ambitious project to turn the route of the Hindu deity, Ram’s exile, into a spiritual circuit.
The project will trace the footprints of the deity in MP and will be flagged off at Chitrakoot, where Ram with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman is believed to have spent nearly 11 and half years of their 14-year exile. “Chitrakoot will be developed as the first ‘spiritual city’ of MP,” said Minister for Spiritual Department PC Sharma on Tuesday, November 12.
“The government had approved Rs 22 crore for the development of the Ram Van Gaman Path in the state budget (in July). Chaurasi Kos, Gupt Godavari and Kamad Giri Parikrama will also be developed in Chitrakoot,” he said. However, the estimates show that the project would require a total of Rs 600 crore.
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As such, the government has released Rs 7 crore in the first phase to develop pilgrim sites, Rs 5 crore for Chaurasi Kos and Rs 1 crore each for development of Gupt Godavari and Kamad Giri Parikrama. The collector will get the work done through selected agencies, said sources in the Spiritual Department.
During the Assembly election in 2018, Congress had attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party over the project, which was announced in 2007 and was still on paper, despite the right wing party’s claims of being a Hindutva party.
Not just that, Congress had also promised the development of Ram Path in its poll manifesto ahead of 2018 Assembly elections. “We do not consider that Ram Mandir issue was solved only because of BJP. This is a matter of faith. People of all faiths across the country have shown solidarity with the SC verdict, clearing the way for the construction of Ram Mandir. If BJP would have gained from the issue, the party wouldn’t have lost in Maharashtra and Haryana,” remarked Sharma.
Congress also tried to use the issue during the 2019 Lok Sabha election to counter BJP’s Hindutva agenda but without much success.
On being asked about the Rs 22 crore sanctioned as opposed to the estimate of Rs 600 crore, Sharma said it was for “initial development”. “We will demand more money in the supplementary budget, which is likely to be tabled in the winter session of Vidhan Sabha in December. We plan to develop the Ram Path stage by stage, and a detailed plan has been prepared by Congress MLA from Chitrakoot, Nilanshu Chaturvedi,” said the minister.
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Meanwhile, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan attacked the Congress-led government saying, “Why does the Congress government cry about lack of funds, especially for projects promised to the public ahead of Assembly polls? We have a Rs 2.33 lakh crore budget. The government is collecting revenue from VAT on petrol and diesel and plenty from excise on liquor. Even then, ministers cry for funds.”