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Modi likens war on terror to killing of Ravan at Ramlila event

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a short speech at the historic Ramlila function at Aishbagh maidan in Lucknow on Tuesday. He touched upon the need to protect the girl child, war on terror, corruption and cleanliness in his speech at the function.

Updates:

7.02 p.m.: 'Land not about yudh but buddh'

He says this is a land of buddh (knowledge) and not yudh (war). We must resolve to get freedom from these. Buddha's way or path should remain our ultimate destination, the Prime Minister says. He ends with a 'Jai Sri Ram' and the crowd roars.

6.56 p.m.: 'Corruption, filth, bad character, disease, illiteracy and superstition — the other Ravans'

Mr. Modi says corruption, filth, bad character, disease, illiteracy and superstition are the Ravans of our society. He states that we need freedom from these 'Ravans' as well.

He talks about the atrocity meted out on Sita. 'We should resolve to punish Ravan each year. But have we thought we discriminate between boys and girls? We kill so many Sitas right in the womb', he points out to the gathering that is listening with rapt attention.

The potection of our Sitas in our homes is our duty, we need to celebrate birth of girl child. Girls need to be treated on a par with boys; they must get justice, Mr. Modi asserts.

6.50 p.m.: On the symbolism of Ram and need to counter terrorism

Terrorism is an enemy of humanity and Ram is representative of humanity and human values, the Prime Minister says. Ram left behind legacy of humanity and sacrifice. Jatayu (eagle that first intervened to help during Sita's kidnapping) was first to fight against terrorism, Ramayan says.

He stressed that we may not become Ram, but can act as Jatayu. Making it clearer, he says,'if common people are alert to terrorism, it will be finished'.

Terrorism had no borders and all human should unite against it. Uproot the terrorists and those who support them must also not be forgiven, the Prime Ministers continues. He refers to the children in Syria and the innocents dying in that region.

6.44 p.m.: On the significance of the ceremony

Mr. Modi asks, "We burn effigy of Ravan every year but what lesson do we take?" We should have only one resolve: to finish our social evils and strengthen our will to end all evils. He says Ravan may not have the some form today but is still present in various forms. He adds that the Ravan within us must be destroyed. He praises the orgaisers for choosing the theme, says it can inspire a lot of people.

6.39 p.m.: Mr. Modi begins his speech with a 'Jai Sriram' and gets a rousing response. He greets the gathering and conveys his Vijayadashami wishes. "It is my good fortune that I have opportunity to attend this function here, the land that has given Ram and Krishna," he says.

6.32 p.m.: Rajnath Singh thanks Mr. Modi for attending the event. He proceeds to talk about the composite culture of Lucknow, and claims how it is the 'karmabhoomi' of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He praises the Prime Minsiter for bringing glory to India and making it 'dum daar'.

Ravan was richer, stronger, wealthier and more intelligent than Ram. But today we worship Ram, who followed 'maryada'. The difference is in character or charitra, he says.

6.27 p.m.: BJP vice-president Dinesh Sharma takes the stage, speaks about the history and background of Ramlila. He is Lucknow Mayor and a patron of the Aishbagh Ramlila committee. He talks about the composite culture of Lucknow, praises the Nawabs for their patronage to Ramlila.

He thanks Mr. Modi for accepting the invitation and becoming the first sitting Prime Minister to attend function in Lucknow. It is interesting to note that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is not present at the venue. He has sent a representative.

Mr. Sharma ends his short speech.

6.15 p.m.: Amid chants, Mr. Modi arrives at the venue. Union Minister Rajnath Singh and top leaders accompany him. Now, Mr. Modi proceeds to participate in 'Ram arti' ritual. He applies tika to actors enacting the roles of Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman in Ramlila play.

The Prime Minister receives a mace and a stole from the organisers. He's been given a bow and arrow, a symbol that represents the opening of the show. Rajnath Singh and and Governor Ram Naik are also honoured.

6.09 p.m: Did you know? Each year, a theme is attached to the burning of Ravan’s effigy. This year, interestingly, it is atankvaad ka samool naash (destruction of the root of terrorism).

“The themes for the event are fixed by the Ramlila committee, one year well in advance. They decide themes for three years in one sitting. In previous years, it was swachhta and paryavaran [cleanliness and environment], it is a coincidence that is is terrorism this year. It has nothing to do with politics or the surgical strikes,” BJP vice-president and Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma has said.

“What we mean by terrorism is that Ravan was an attankhi [terrorist]...his atankhi character must be destroyed,” he added.

5.58 p.m.: Opposition parties have described Mr. Modi’s scheduled presence an “election stunt” and accused the BJP of using the Hindu festival as a launch pad for its 2017 campaign. Taking a dig at Mr. Modi, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said, “If elections were being held in Bihar then the Ravana would have been burnt there.” The sharpest attack has come from BSP chief Mayawati who termed Mr. Modi’s visit a political stunt. She alleged that the surgical strikes could have been deliberately delayed by the government in the aftermath of the Uri attacks in order to take political mileage out of the nationalist fervour it would trigger.

5.35 p.m.: Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Governor Ram Naik welcome Mr. Modi at Lucknow airport.


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