Kejriwal flags off train to Ayodhya

Warm send-off: Arvind Kejriwal with passengers to Ayodhya at Safdarjung railway station on Friday.  

Amid slogans of “Jai Shri Ram”, petal showers, tight security and light classical music, the first train carrying 1,000 devotees to the Ram Temple in Ayodhya under the Delhi Government’s Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana departed from the Safdarjung railway station here on Friday evening.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was there in person to flag off the train and interact with the Ayodhya-bound devotees.

“Many of our senior citizens have gone to Ayodhya today to have darshan of Shri Ram Lalla. This is something wonderful and it is a matter of happiness for all of us. I came to meet all these people here. Everyone is very happy,” he said after flagging off the train.

‘Permission denied’

The Chief Minister said the Delhi Government had planned for a send-off programme at the station but the Central Government “refused permission”.

Buses full of pilgrims from each of the 70 Assembly constituencies of the Capital kept pulling up one after the other outside the station throughout the day for the 7 p.m. train, with devotees deboarding and breaking into chants of “Jai Shri Ram” before being welcomed into the station.

The media were not allowed to access the platform but devotees outside had a range of responses, with most appreciative of the Chief Minister and the Delhi Government.

Praise for CM

“He calls himself the Shravan Kumar of Delhi [referring to a character in the Ramayana known for his devotion to parents] and today he has proved it,” said Prabha Kumari, one of the pilgrims.

Asked if the trip could yield political dividends in the civic elections in the Capital next year, Ms. Kumari said “no political party or leader — whether Kejriwal or [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi — can claim God only as their own”.

Ashish Negi, another pilgrim, said elections in Delhi are months away. “If there was a BJP Government in this city, this pilgrimage tour would have been happening a few days before an election.”

“I don’t have any children but today I feel I have a son. We will think about the elections when they come,” said Santoshi Devi, another pilgrim.

Since its formal launch, a total of 35,080 beneficiaries have travelled under the scheme. An insurance cover of ₹1 lakh is also provided to look after the devotees.

While the scheme covered 13 pilgrimage circuits initially, the list has now gone up to 15 with the inclusion of Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan and Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 5:35:10 PM |

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