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UP legislators arrive in Ayodhya, offer prayers at Ram temple

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Lucknow, Feb 11 (PTI) Uttar Pradesh legislators barring those from main opposition Samajwadi Party on Sunday visited the newly-built Ram temple in Ayodhya.

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Enthusiasm was visible among Ayodhya's residents who showered flowers as the legislators arrived the temple town.

Members of both houses of the Uttar Pradesh legislature, including those from the BJP and its allies, the Congress, BSP, and SBSP, left Lucknow in 10 buses around 9 am for Ram Lalla's darshan Ayodhya.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who joined his cabinet ministers in Ayodhya, visited the temple with them, as people in the temple complex chanted 'Jai Shri Ram'.

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Speaking to reporters in Ayodhya, Principal Secretary (Home) Sanjay Prasad said the group would not visit the Hanumangarhi temple located near the Ram Mandir "due to paucity of time and owing to the crowd there".

On the Samajwadi Party (SP) declining the trip, Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak said it is because they had ordered firing on 'Ram bhakts' (devotees of lord Ram) and this is part of their minority appeasement politics.

Congress MLA Aradhana Mishra, however, sought to defend the SP's stand, saying one can go to Ayodhya whenever convenient for them.

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Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), an ally of the SP, however, is a part of the Ayodhya trip.

"Members of both Houses of the Uttar Pradesh Legislature have left for Ayodhya. If anybody is not going, it is the 'samaaptwaadi party'," Maurya told PTI, apparently referring to the Samajwadi Party.

"All of us are going as 'Ram bhakts' (devotees of Lord Ram)," Maurya said before leaving for the temple town.

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He added that Speaker of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Satish Mahana and Chairman of state Legislative Council Kunwar Manvendra Singh were also going to Ayodhya.

The members of both Houses were invited by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Satish Mahana to Ayodhya to offer prayers to Ram Lalla in the newly-constructed temple.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had declined the invitation.

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Speaking to reporters before leaving for Ayodhya, Mahana said, "This is a matter of faith. Nobody could be forced to visit the 'darbaar' of any God. If a person has not come due to various reasons, then it is his matter." "Yesterday, the Leader of Opposition (Akhilesh Yadav) had said in the Assembly that Speaker sir, I will not come even if you invite. But, I had told him that when you go to Ayodhya, take me along with you," the speaker added.

Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak who also joined the group visiting the holy city said, "After the consecration of Lord Ram in the newly-constructed temple in Ayodhya, we (all the legislators) had decided to go for a 'darshan'." "It is a wonderful sight ('adbhut drishya'). The entire world is talking about it. The way in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made India's cultural heritage bloom, everybody is very happy and going to the temple," he said.

BSP MLA Umashankar Singh told PTI, "The SP leaders in the meeting of party leaders had urged the speaker to facilitate the visit of the MLAs to the Ram temple. SP MLA Rakesh Singh had given in writing (requesting the Speaker) to take the MLAs to Ayodhya. Shivpal Singh Yadav had also made a similar request. There should not be any type of politics in this." He added, "Ours (BSP) is a secular party. We respect all religions. Today, on the directives of the speaker, we are going (to Ayodhya). Tomorrow, if the best mosque of the world comes up there, we will go there as well. But there should be no politics over this." Arrangements have been made for the visit by the Minister of State for Transport (Independent Charge) Dayashankar Singh, an official statement said.

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Expressing happiness, Manju Siwach of the BJP said, "All of us are very excited. On January 22, we held programmes in our respective cities and could not go there (Ayodhya) due to the rush (of devotees). However, we were keen on having a 'darshan' of Lord Ram." "Everyday, we have a 'darshan' of pictures of Lord Ram. But today we will have 'saakshaat' (face-to-face) 'darshan'," she said.

Jansatta Dal Loktantrik MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh said, "Just look at the happiness on each and every face here. It is a big honour not only for me, but all the legislators (who are going to Ayodhya)." Uttar Pradesh minister Sanjay Nishad said members of both the Houses, members of treasury benches and opposition are going to Ayodhya.

Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA Pradeep Kumar Singh alias Guddu Chaudhary said, "It is a matter of faith and we all have faith in Lord Ram. Therefore, all of us are going (to Ayodhya) today to have a darshan of Ram Lalla." The Uttar Pradesh MLAs had originally planned to pay a visit to Ayodhya on February 1, a day before commencement of the budget session, but later postponed the trip to avoid inconvenience to people thronging the town to pay respect to Lord Ram. PTI NAV SNS RPA

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