Ayodhya: Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Wednesday took up the cudgels against the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government, saying Samajwadi Party's rule was a "Ravana Rajya based on nepotism", while the BJP rule was a "Ram Rajya" with no place for discrimination against anyone. "Ram Rajya is development; it is bijli, sadak, and paani (Electricity, Roads, and Water)," he said.
The chief minister, who is in the holy city of Ayodhya ahead of Diwali, said that the Opposition had acquired a habit of asking questions to divert people's attention. "We are here not to divert issue but to work on the development of the city," he said, adding that the previous regime had neglected Ram's birthplace for a long time. "It will not be the case anymore."
Urging people for their support, Adityanath said that every religious place in the state will be brought to the attention of international audience so as to bolster Uttar Pradesh tourism.
He said that people should understand the significance of Ayodhya. "Ayodhya gave Diwali to the world. It taught us humanity," he said, adding that projects worth Rs 133 crore had been launched on Wednesday to boost state tourism.
Adityanath said this was first of the four phases planned for Ayodhya.
"There will be beautification of Ayodhya and its ghats. This effort will continue in other historic places. Be it Kashi, Mathura, Namisharayna (Sitapur), Mirzapur, Tulsipur (Balrampur), Saharanpur, we will develop historical places.
The state should become a world tourism hub and it is a beginning from Ayodhya," he said.
The chief minister said he wanted to restore the ancient glory of Ayodhya. Referring to the 1.71 of earthen lamps being lit on the bank of river Sarayu, Adityanath said the figure matched the population under the Ayodhya Nagar Nigam.
Officials said that the 1.71 lakh earthen lamps being lit at an event could enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
In his speech, UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said that "those opposed to Lord Ram cannot stop us from developing Ayodhya".
Adityanath said that a 'Ramayan mela' will be associated with this programme next year onwards.
UP Governor Ram Naik lauded the efforts of the Adityanath government in developing Ayodhya and thanked him for this assurance that all the work would be completed in two years, before his (Naik's) tenure ends.
Prominent among others present included seers, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons and BJP state chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.
After the main event, the stage was set for a grand laser show and 'aarti' (worship) of river Saryu.
The Uttar Pradesh government has been in the eye of a storm ever since its tourism booklet, a fortnight ago, gave the iconic Taj Mahal a miss. BJP MLA Sangeet Som, a few days ago, raked up another controversy, calling the Taj a "blot" on India's heritage.
Som, however later, modified his statement, saying he was not against the Taj but its constructor whose history was dotted with blood.
Before that, the chief minister had courted controversy, proposing a 100-metre tall Ram statue in the holy city to promote tourism. The Opposition had criticised Adityanath's priorities, asking him to focus on improving the health infrastructure of the state, instead.