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'Endorsement of a Religion on Taxpayers' Money Unconstitutional'

Boats on the banks of a river in Ayodhya. (CNN-News18 photo)

Boats on the banks of a river in Ayodhya. (CNN-News18 photo)

Speaking to News18, Jilani put across his point, calling the proposal "unconstitutional", adding that if something was being done to promote tourism, it was more than welcome. "Many people will get employment.

Lucknow: It's unconstitutional to endorse a particular religion on taxpayers' money, Babri Masjid Action Committee convener and former Additional Advocate General, Uttar Pradesh, Zafaryab Jilani, said on Tuesday, hours after chief minister Yogi Adityanath proposed to build a 100-metre tall Ram statue in Ayodhya.

Speaking to News18, Jilani put across his point, calling the proposal "unconstitutional", adding that if something was being done to promote tourism, it was more than welcome. "Many people will get employment. It will also develop Ayodhya as a tourist spot. However, if Lord Ram's statue is established, prayers will also be offered which makes it unconstitutional because taxpayers' money is involved."

The Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has proposed a grand statue of Lord Ram on the banks of Saryu River in Ayodhya. Amid the ever-present Ram Janmabhoomi debate, the government is now planning the statue not far from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site. Proposed as a part of its ‘Navya Ayodhya’ project to promote religious tourism in the state, the massive structure might cost hundreds of crores. This comes even as the UP tourism department gave the Taj Mahal a miss in its tourism booklet, ignoring the historic monument that is a huge revenue generator for the state, apart from being one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’.

Reacting sharply to the Yogi government's proposal, Samajwadi Party MLC, Sunil Singh Sajan said, “Whenever elections are around the corner, BJP starts talking about Ayodhya. BJP is just interested in doing politics in the name of Lord Ram, development is not their agenda. If BJP Chief Ministers Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh and Ram Prakash Gupta had developed Ayodhya in their regime, then the BJP would not have to do politics over it today. During the regime of Akhilesh Yadav, we gave a Bhajan Sthal to Ayodhya along with 14 Kosi scheme, developed ghats in ayodhya. But since the BJP government is formed in state, thrice the central tourism minister has visited Ayodhya but not even a single development work has started.”

Prinicipal Secretary Toursim, Awanish Awasthi, speaking about the proposed Lord Ram statue on the banks of Saryu River in Ayodhya, said, “We have just thought about the statue and the proposal is just conceptual. The selection of the site has not been done yet.”

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