The Madhya Pradesh government has announced a festival from March 6-8 in the town of Orchha, which is associated with ‘Raja’ Ram and revered as a second Ayodhya by many. The measure is being taken to turn the town into a hub of spirituality and heritage.
The move appeared to be another attempt at political oneupmanship by the Congress government as the festival is expected to give a push to its "soft-Hindutva" outreach.
MP minister Brijendra Singh Rathore said the government will organise 'Namaste Orchha', which is a brainchild of Chief Minister Kamal Nath and is aimed at increasing job creation and helping bring in investment.
"The heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, is packed with heritage sites and natural beauty, so this event will give a fillip to tourism," said Rathore.
According to a portal dedicated to the event, the MP government is planning infrastructure development in and around the town to improve amenities for tourists and visitors.
Rathore accused the former BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan for not doing enough in its 15 years of power to promote the state's heritage associated with Ram. He also questioned why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not visited Orchha during his visit to Bundelkhand.
BJP spokesperson Vishwas Sarang said his party has no objections to the festival, but claimed the Congress had hindered the construction of Ayodhya's Ram Temple for a long time.
Sarang also urged the ruling party to refrain from using Ram's name for political mileage, and to ensure it does not tamper with Orchha's image as a spiritual city.
The Nath government last year announced the development of Ram Van Gaman Path — a mythological route taken by Ram, Sita and Laxman during their 14 years in exile. In January, the government announced it would allocate funds for the construction of a temple dedicated to Sita in Sri Lanka.
A temple town in Tikamgarh district of MP, Orchha is sacred to Hindus as it is believed that Ram – in the persona of a king — lives here during the day and retires to Ayodhya at night. In the town, the mythological king is given a guard of honour by armed police personnel four times a day.