The grand consecration ceremony of the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya is slated for January 22, 2024. The event is expected to have around 8,000 attendees, including 1,500–1,600 distinguished guests. Organiser Special Correspondent Nishant Kumar Azad and Sub-editor Yatharth Sikka exclusively talked with Bimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra, often referred to as the ‘King of Ayodhya.’ As a member of the Ayodhya royal family and a participant in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, he oversees the temple construction through the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. He is also a member of the Trust. Excerpts:
What is your perspective on the current lively and festive atmosphere in Ayodhya with the construction of the Ram temple?
I view the evolving atmosphere in a highly positive manner. Bhavya mandir ke banne se Ayodhya ka shree, vaibhav aur hinduon ka samman wapas laut raha hai (The restoration of Ayodhya’s lost glory, grandeur and respect of Hindus through the construction of the Ram temple is a momentous occasion). Our ancestors dedicated their lives to this cause, and for the past 500 years, we’ve been steadfast in our pursuit. The sacrifices made by kar sevaks and our community over centuries for this sacred cause is commendable. I am delighted that the collective sacrifices have borne fruit, and the construction of the grand Mandir of Prabhu Sri Ram is underway.
What role have you played in the preservation of Ayodhya and construction of Ram Temple?
Throughout various periods, my ancestors and my family have actively participated in this movement. I, too, have taken the initiative to contribute to this. Drawing inspiration from the squirrel that aided Sri Ram in building the Ram Setu, I have endeavoured to play a part in the construction of the magnificent Ram Temple.
With the development and reconstruction of temples in Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura, it is anticipated that pilgrimage numbers will rise, contributing to economic growth of the State. How do you perceive this?
Indeed, the construction of temples in Ayodhya, Kashi, and Mathura is expected to attract more pilgrims, signaling positive economic prospects for Uttar Pradesh. With the spiritual significance of Bhagwan Shiva, Bhagwan Sri Ram, and Bhagwan Sri Krishna at these sacred sites, increased footfall is likely to result in economic development. This influx of devotees will not only bolster employment opportunities but also strengthen the economic foundation of Uttar Pradesh. Our temples were destroyed and masjids were built in place of that. If our temple is not built at our sacred place, then where will it be built? It is our sincere desire to see temples properly established in Mathura, Kashi, and Ayodhya. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge the historical context – many Hindu temples across India were demolished by the Islamic invaders.
Certain political groups and individuals have always opposed the construction of the Ram temple, suggesting the construction of hospitals and schools instead. Similar sentiments have been expressed regarding Krishna Janmbhoomi. How do you see such statements?
This opposition often comes from specific interest groups that habitually resist positive initiatives. It draws parallels to situations where skeptics asked for the evidence from the Indian Army on the surgical strike. Such individuals consistently express dissent, but their negativity should not deter us from our constructive efforts. It’s a reality that no matter how commendable the work, there will always be critics. It is important to stay focused on the task at hand and not be swayed by perpetual dissent.
As the construction of the Ram temple progresses, what measures are you implementing to link your palace with the temple, akin to the palaces in Rajasthan?
I am currently in the process of transforming my palace into a five-star hotel. The aim is to provide enhanced facilities for pilgrims visiting Ayodhya. Additionally, I serve as a member of the Teerth Kshetra Trust, where my primary focus is to support the temple construction and participate in all construction activities. As a dedicated citizen of Ayodhya, I harbor a deep affection for the city and am committed to fulfilling my civic duties.
You’ve seen various governments throughout your lifetime, including UPA era at the Center in the past and the current Narendra Modi Government. How do you assess the efforts of both governments in terms of the development of Ayodhya?
Every Government works on their own agenda. Previous Government has totally neglected Ayodhya. The previous governments, in my view, did not contribute significantly to the development of Ayodhya. Reflecting on the past 20 years, Ayodhya faced challenging conditions before the Narendra Modi Government took office. During that period, many residents were forced to migrate, and the city experienced a dearth of employment opportunities and business activities. Additionally, there was a prevalent atmosphere of fear with the occurrence of curfews and riots in Ayodhya. Substantial positive changes have occurred in Ayodhya since the Modi government assumed office at the Center. Today, the residents of Ayodhya express satisfaction, attributing it to the efforts undertaken by the government.