Stage set for groundbreaking ceremony of Ayodhya temple on August 5

Giant screens have been put up for devotees to watch the ceremony
Celebration time

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray are among those who will attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, to be performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5. According to the temple trust, laying a 40-kg silver brick as the foundation stone by Modi will be the highlight of the ceremony. Thackeray had visited Ayodhya in March, his first after becoming chief minister, and had stressed that while his party, the Shiv Sena, had severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party, it was committed to the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. According to sources, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Thackeray’s ally, is backing his visit. Giant screens have been put up for devotees to watch the ceremony. Among over 50 VIPs scheduled to attend the event are Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, L K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, and Uma Bharti.

Madhya Pradesh potboiler

MLA K P Singh, a Congressman, was spotted at Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra’s bungalow on Monday morning, triggering all kinds of speculation. Only the day before, the Congress Legislature Party had held a meeting at former chief minister Kamal Nath’s residence, where the leaders present had agreed they would launch an agitation against the BJP government in the state. However, all party MLAs were not there. After the meeting, Mishra had sent a bouncer down the pitch. “The Congress doesn't have much confidence in itself as a party, but likes to show it has, so that more members don’t leave the party,” he had said. As proof, he said “even when Kamal Nath was the CM, not all MLAs used to attend the meetings”.

Young versus old

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Jagat Prakash Nadda on Monday appointed Ladakh’s 34-year-old MP, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, the party’s UT unit chief. But when it came to Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the BJP trusted 65-year-old Lok Sabha MP C R Patil. He is known to be close to the PM and replaces 49-year-old Jitu Vaghani. It is to be noted that Vaghani was one of the youngest leaders to get the job in August 2016, after Vijay Rupani became chief minister. Patil is known to be a resourceful politician, and insiders believe he would be the perfect choice, given that the Gujarat Assembly polls are a bit over two years away, and could turn out to be as tricky as the previous one in December 2017. Vaghani could be inducted into the state cabinet.

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