Are VVIP prayers at Kedarnath prelude to announcement of LS elections?

Dehradun: Is the Congress-led central government in the mood to announce elections to Lok Sabha in the coming days. Is this why work is being done at break neck speed at the Kedarnath shrine so pooja can be done on Aug 11 and take the blessings of Lord Shiva. This is buzz word doing the rounds in political circles here.Are VVIP prayers at Kedarnath prelude to announcement of LS elections

It may be recalled that the immediate surroundings of the shrine and the route to it were devastated in the June 16-17 tragedy that hit the Kedarnath valley. Eversince, there has been no worship at the shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva and held in high esteem by Hindus nor only in India but all over the world.

Reports are that the Congress high command was taking more than its share of interest to ensure that the prayers are held in the shrine on Sept 11. In fact, almost anyone and everyone was at his wits end why chief minister Vijay Bahuguna was working overtime for cleansing the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and its immediate environs, even as it remained inaccessible.

It is now being said that the main purpose of work being done overtime to start prayers at the shrine, despite the fact that a number of bodies may still be lying buried under the debris of the numerous buildings that were devastated in the immediate environs of the shrine, was at the behest of the Congress high command, which feels that it would help get the blessings of Lord Shiva.

In fact, many, including the high priests and leaders of the Hindu community and the members of the Badri-Kedar Committee are questioning the authenticity of speeding up work for prayers at the shrine, when the approach pedestrian route too is yet to be made. What use are the prayers at the shrine, when pilgrims and devotes will not be able to come to worship and pay their obeisance to the Lord, they asked.

It is reliably gathered that the Sept 11 prayers is going to be a closed door affair, where only a small number of VVIPs will be present. The VVIPs will be airlifted to the shrine and they will take part in the special prayers to mark the re-opening of the shrine. The re-opening gains significance as it is perhaps the first time that prayers in the shrine have been stopped during season.

That the prayers will be a closed door affair is evident from the fact that the chief minister has personally directed the district administration to ensure that all pedestrian roads leading to the shrine are closed and no one even makes an attempt to reach there. Directions have been already issued asking the devotees to refrain coming to the shrine for the inaugural prayers on Sept 11.

This is despite the fact that a large number of high priests and devotees had expressed their desire to be at the shrine for the prayers, but all their pleas to let them participate have fallen on deaf ears. They have even met the district authorities to know if a number of VVIPs can be allowed to the shrine on Sept 11, why should it be out of bounds for them.

Another factor which is giving credence to the announcement of Lok Sabha elections shortly after Sept 11 is the fact that even the restoration and repair works of the damaged works will only be undertaken after the prayers. For all practical purposes the works should have been undertaken before worship started at the shrine so that it remains safe for the devotees and pilgrims.

But the restoration team comprising of geologists and engineers have been asked to wait till the VVIP prayers are over before they start their restoration and repair work on the shrine, which will be held in two phases. The first phase will be to clean the walls and restore the slabs that have moved out of place to their original place in the structure.

But skeptics feel that perhaps even the VVIPs prayers are at the mercy of the Lord himself. The weather has been a deterrent to various efforts that the state government has been making to airlift heavy equipment to undertake the cleansing work and removing of the debris from the shrine, along with other construction works. Will the weather gods oblige for the VVIP prayers is what everyone seems to be asking.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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