New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday suggested that the groundbreaking ceremony or bhoomi pujan of the Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya be done through videoconferencing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - Ahead of 'Bhumi Pujan' For Ram Mandir on August 5, Yogi Adityanath Visits Ayodhya
In an interview to his party Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana, the Maharashtra Chief Minister argued that while he, being a Chief Minister, can go to Ayodhya, how will the government stop lakhs of devotees from coming to the temple town for the ceremony in the middle of a raging pandemic. Also Read - Ram Mandir in Ayodhya: PM Modi Likely to Attend 'Bhumi Pujan' on August 5, Say Sources
He said, “We can have an e-bhoomi pujan. The ground-breaking ceremony can be held through video-conference. This is an event of joy, and lakhs of people would be interested in attending the ceremony. But, can we allow the spread of coronavirus?” Also Read - Ram Mandir Construction: 'Bhumi Pujan' Likely Next Month, PM Modi Invited
Remarking that the Ram Temple issue had a background of struggle, he further said, “This is no ordinary temple. Today, we’re fighting the coronavirus pandemic and religious gatherings are prohibited. I can go to Ayodhya for the ceremony, but what about lakhs of Ram bhakts. Will you stop them? ”
“You can do e-bhoomi pujan through videoconference”, he suggested.
Notably, the groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to take place on August 5 and will be performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Saturday, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Ayodhya to take stock of preparations there.
Earlier this week, the Allahabad High Court dismissed a plea by a Mumbai-based RTI activist seeking a stay on the groundbreaking ceremony.
At over 3.6 lakh, Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country. Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, has reported over 60,000 positive cases.
(With inputs from PTI)