Targeting previous governments in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Wednesday that earlier public money used to be spent on (Muslim) 'kabristan' but under the BJP dispensation, funds are being used for the redevelopment of (Hindu) temples.
Addressing an event organised at the Ram Katha Park by the Uttar Pradesh government as part of Deepotsav celebrations, he also announced that beneficiaries of the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna will continue to get free ration till Holi next year.
He said the scheme, which was rolled out to provide free ration to the poor during the Covid-19 pandemic, was set to expire in November this year but his government decided to extend it till Holi (March) next year as the "pandemic is not yet over."
Under this scheme, he said, beneficiaries will get salt, sugar, dal and oil along with wheat and rice and this will benefit 15 crore people of Uttar Pradesh.
Elections to the Uttar Pradesh assembly are due to be held early next year.
The chief minister also launched 50 different projects worth Rs 661 crore.
Adityanath said, "Pehle pradesh ka ye paisa kabristan ke boundary par kharch hota tha, aaj mandiron ke punarnirman par kharch ho raha hai (Earlier the state's money used to be spent on boundary of kabristan. Today it is being spent on redevelopment of temples."
"Yahi antar hai soch ka. Jinko kabristan pyara tha woh janta ka paisa wahin lagate the, jinko dharma aur sanskriti pyari hai wo unke utthan, unnayan ke liye uss paise ka upyog kar rahe hain (This is the difference in thinking. Those in love with kabristan used to spend public money there, those who love religion and culture are spending the money on their uplift and upgrade," he said.
The construction of a majestic Ram temple is underway in Ayodhya and various other projects are being implemented by the central government for facelift of 500 temples and other religious sites in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Of these, the work has been completed at more than 300 sites and the work in the remaining sites will be completed in the next two months, he said.
Talking about the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Adityanath trained guns at the parties who governed the state earlier, saying 30 years ago chanting of Jai Shri Ram was considered as a crime.
He said the construction of the Ram temple has finally begun after the prime minister laid its foundation last year, and gave the credit to the strength of democracy and people.
"Those who were firing at you 30 years ago, they are bowing before your strength," he said in an apparent reference to the firings on kar sevaks in Ayodhya, and added, "Ram united everybody. This is the power of Ram."
"No power in the world can now stop construction of the temple and its completion by 2023," he added.
The chief minister said Ayodhya has now emerged as "a new cultural city" before the world, and asserted that it will witness more development in the coming days. The city will attract tourists from all over the world, he added.
Addressing the gathering, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism G Kishan Reddy said Ayodhya will become the world's "biggest" tourist destination in coming years with both the central and state governments focussing on its development.
An international airport, proposed to be set up in Ayodhya, will connect the holy city to the world.
The grandeur of 'Treta Yug' came alive in Ayodhya as the mythical event of homecoming of Hindu deities Ram and Sita along with Lakshman after 14 years of exile was re-enacted. Actors playing the roles of Ram, Sita and Lakshman descended in a helicopter -- a modern take on the myhthical 'pushpak viman' -- at the Ram Katha Park. Chief Minister Adityanath and other dignitaries received them.
Then followed the re-enactment of the mythical event of 'Bharat Milap', the meeting of Ram with his younger brother Bharat who was in charge of the administration in Ram's absence.
Later, the chief minister performed a symbolic "Rajyabhishek (anointment)" of Ram to mark his return to his kingdom.
Reddy, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and other dignitaries present on the occasion also performed rituals pertaining to 'Rajyabhishek'.
After sunset, the holy city of Ayodhya turned into a city of lights as 12 lakh diyas (earthen lamps) were lit. Of the 12 lakh diyas, nine lakh were lit along the banks of the Saryu river.
Adityanath said his government started Deepotsav celebrations in Ayodhya in 2017.
(With PTI Inputs)