Come to Lucknow and you will find whispers, posters and chats by BJP supporters on how PM Modi is on verge of taking another extraordinary step by attending the AishBagh Ramleela this year.
BJP is proudly claiming that this would be a first time that any PM will celebrate the festival of Dusshera in Lucknow and will not attend the event at New Delhi. Lucknow Mayor and party’s vice president Dinesh Sharma who is also a profile bearer in the same Ramleela committee briefed the media about Modi’s presence.
“He would witness the famous ‘Ram Leela’ at Aishbagh and thereafter stay back for the ‘Ravan Dahan’, burning of Ravana effigies. Even Atalji did not witness this Ramleela when he was MP from the same seat. He will be in the city for two hours and will attend the function Of Ramleea and he has no other engagements”
BJP is taking all such moves to gain a foothold in the poll bound state of Uttar Pradesh and this Ramleela is being seen as another platform to count the numbers. Similarly there are some posters and hoardings with patriotic slogans urging Modi to teach a lesson to Pakistan are also displayed in the state capital.
State BJP head Keshav Prasad Maurya told us “ His itinerary is not yet official but we are expecting that he will be in Lucknow to witness the slaying of Rawan by Lord Ram this year.”
The organisers are now gearing up for a massive buildup to the Ram Leela festivities. The organisers also want the Prime Minister to play Rama and fire the first arrow at Ravana’s effigy at Aishbagh Ram Leela grounds to symbolise the victory of “Good over Evil” so that the BJP could use this narrative to play up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has been out of power in the state since 2002 is now playing all moves to gather more support in Uttar Pradesh for upcoming elections. In another such development The Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar is also expected to be in the state capital before PM’s visit for the first time since the army’s “surgical” strikes on terror camps operating across the Line of Control. BJP hopes that such acts would shape the political discourse in all the poll-bound states including UP.
Senior Journalist Ashwini Bhatnagar told us- They had started the 360 degree campaign in UP and these war hungry posters and his visit to Aishbagh Ramleela are parts of the campaign. The geographical location of Aishbhagh Ramleela lies nearby Eidgaah and he wants to use the secular atmosphere of the area.”
Till date No SP and BSP leader had countered or commented over PM’s visit for Ramleela function and BJP is busy counting days for a peaceful procession. Senior leaders are monitoring the arrangements while security system had been beefed up in the area.
Leaving the Heritage aside-
But in all this hustle and bustle of Lucknow’s event, PM Modi and his poll advisers had somehow missed to recognise the very old Ramnagar ramleela of Varanasi. This Ramleela was started in 1830 by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh and This Ramleela is unique in many forms. The Ramnagar Ramlila is held in 31 days instead of usual 10, and is known for no use of sound and lights but with its lavish sets, dialogues and visual spectacle. Here permanent structures have been built and several temporary structures are also added, which serve as sets, to represent locations.
In the late seventies, it was PM Indira Gandhi who had exceeded the government grant to Ram Nagar Ramleela from Rs 10,000 to One lakh. In past 200 years This Ramleela had not changed its structure and it had been a subject of research for cultural experts. None of the senior BJP leaders expressed a single word on why PM Modi had missed the Ram Nagar Ramleela in past two years.
Veteran Journalist Amitabha Bhattacharya cracks a quirky joke by saying “Ramnagar lies towards the east of Varanasi city and although technically it is part of Varanasi District but most of its parliamentary Geographical boundaries lie in Chandauli seat.” “Our PM might had missed it because of the same reason but his choice for Lukcnow is a poll bound step, You see they have flared the western UP, now they will come to central part and slowly they will expand to Poorvanchal and Chitrakoot regions, the agenda is to pull the communal string and they have many ways to do that.”