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Lucknow, Apr 30:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to avoid visit to the disputed site when he visits Ayodhya on May 1 to address a rally.  This will be Modi’ first visit to Ayodhya in last five years.

The rally, according to sources, will be organised  at Mayanagar Bazar in Gosainganj, which is about 27 km from Ayodhya. This place though in district Ayodhya votes    for Ambedkar Nagar Lok Sabha seat.

The holy town has been central to the BJP and its indutva affiliates’ agitation for a Ram temple at what faithfuls believe to be the birth place of lord Ram.

Ayodhya falls under Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to polls in the fifth phase on May 6.

The BJP has been promising to build a grand Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya since 1991 — even before the mosque was razed.

And like the Ram temple, 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies too has remained an election pledge since it was first mentioned by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its 1996 manifesto.

Both issues figure prominently in the 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto issued on Monday.

The first reference to a Ram temple in Ayodhya came in the 1989 Lok Sabha battle but at that time, the BJP did not speak about constructing one at the site where the 16th century Babri Masjid stood.

The 1989 reference said: “By not allowing the rebuilding of the Ram Janma Mandir in Ayodhya, on the lines of Somnath Mandir built by the Government of India in 1948, it (government) has allowed tensions to rise, and gravely strained social harmony.”

In the next elections in 1991, the saffron party said it firmly believed that construction of Ram Mandir at ‘Jamnasthan’ (birthplace) of Lord Ram was a symbol of the vindication of “our cultural heritage and national self-respect”.

In December 1992, Hindu mobs brought down the Babri Masjid and quickly built a makeshift temple dedicated to Lord Ram.

In 1996, the year when the BJP first took power albeit only for 13 days, the BJP promised to facilitate the construction of “a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya which will be a tribute to Bharat Mata”.

In 1998, when the BJP finally formed its broad coalition government, it repeated its promise to build “a magnificent Shri Ram Mandir” where a makeshift temple already exists.

It also said that the BJP will explore all consensual, legal and constitutional means towards this end.

In 1999, when the BJP returned to power after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence, the party kept away from the temple issue, more to please many of its allies in the coalition.

However, in 2004, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) manifesto said: “The NDA believes that an early and amicable resolution of the Ayodhya issue will strengthen national integration. We continue to hold that the judiciary’s verdict in this matter should be accepted by all. At the same time, efforts should be intensified for dialogue and a negotiated settlement in an atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill.”

In 2009, the BJP said there was an overwhelming desire of the people to have a grand temple at the birthplace of Ram in Ayodhya and it again promised to explore all possibilities to facilitate such a construction.

The 2019 manifesto released on Monday said: “We will explore all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution and all necessary efforts to facilitate the expeditious construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.”

The same is the story of the bill meant to reserve a third of all seats in Parliament and state Assemblies for women.

The BJP made its first commitment in an election manifesto in 1996 “to make women real participants in a resurgent India of the 21st century”.

In 1998, the party promised it will “immediately seek the passage of the Bill reserving 33 per cent seats for women in all elected bodies, including the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies”.

The issue came up again came up in 1999, 2004, 2009 and also in 2014.

The latest manifesto says: “Women’s welfare and development will be accorded a high priority at all levels within the government, and the BJP is committed to 33 per cent reservation in parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional

News24 Bureau/ PTI

Photo: Google