Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the holy town of Ayodhya on Saturday, unveiling fresh transport links aimed at facilitating pilgrims to the upcoming temple dedicated to Lord Ram.

The temple’s construction, costing an estimated $240 million and standing at 50 meters in height, has been a longstanding commitment of Modi’s ruling party and is set to be formally unveiled next month at the site of a demolished mosque, sparking memories of sectarian violence from over three decades ago.

Addressing thousands at a city rally, Modi emphasized the significance of preserving cultural heritage while focusing on economic growth, asserting, “This is the new India that will both preserve its culture and focus on economic growth.” Despite the official purpose of inaugurating new airport and transport services, the visit had the undertones of a campaign stop, strategically timed ahead of the upcoming national elections.

The temple’s inauguration is expected to draw millions of visitors annually, reinforcing Modi’s image as a guardian of India’s majority faith. In an unusual move, Modi urged Hindus to refrain from visiting the site on the inauguration day, citing logistical challenges. The Ayodhya temple project holds immense cultural and political importance, symbolizing the resurgence of Hindu nationalism following the destruction of the mosque in 1992, which led to widespread riots and reshaped India’s political landscape. While Hindus view the project as a restoration of ancient glory, some Muslim residents of Ayodhya remain wary, recalling the violence that accompanied the demolition of the mosque.

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