The 39-day-long Ram Rajya Rath Yatra from Ayodhya to Rameshwaram was flagged off on Tuesday from the temple town. The UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, however, stayed away from the flag off ceremony in Ayodhya following a controversy over the motive of the yatra.
The VHP General Secretary Champat Rai flagged off the yatra amid chanting of 'Jai Sri Ram' and 'Ram lala hum aayenge, mandir vahi bananyenge' slogans.
Though the yatra is being taken out under the banner of a Maharashtra-based organization Shri Ram das Mission Universal Society, the RSS and entire sangh parivar has thrown its weight around to make it a great success and to create the same religious fervour which LK Advani's yatra had done about 28 years ago in 1990.
The yatra will pass through six states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu before culminating at Ramehswaram on Ram Vami Day on March 25 with a pledge to establish Ram Rajya in the country and to begin construction of grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The yatra is being carried on a special wooden carved Rath (chariot), depicting design and replica of the proposed Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya. It took four months from artisans in Maharashtra to carve the rath having 28 pillars with a cost of over Rs 25 lakhs.
Though the BJP and its leaders have deliberately kept themselves away from the Ram Rajya Rath Yatra, the RSS and its offshoots will actively participate in the yatra as well as 40 public meetings it will hold in six states to keep the Ram temple issues alive before 2019 Lok Sabha polls.