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In the land of Ram, BJP facing tough fight from SP-BSP alliance

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By Naz Asghar

May 7, 2019

Ayodhya  (Faizabad): In the narrow lanes and by lanes of this historic town considered holy by crores of Hindus as the birth place of Lord Ram, the temple issue that kept the nation’s political pot boiling for years, evokes a very cool and reasoned response from the locals.

Not that this time the BJP, which has contested many elections on this issue, has chosen not to make Ram temple  a poll plank.

Even in the past, for locals of Ayodhya and adjoining Faizabad, the frenzy, the hate and the violence associated with Ram temple movement have been political imports from outside the twin cities. .

May be being in the heart of this ‘Ram Nagri’ (city of Ram), they do not so much depend on any outside symbols to be close to Him. ” Jab banna ho ga ban jaiga, yahan to har taraf waisi bhi Ram hi Ram hai,”( There is time for everything. Temple will be constructed when it is willed. Anyway, there is only Ram all over here), said one local devotee coming down the steep stairs of Hanuman Grahi temple.

The  mood of the voters of the town simmering under the blazing May sun  was in total contrast to the mood of the weather and the poll fever that has gripped the nation. Ayodhya, which falls in the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency went to polls in the fifth phase of elections on May 6.

In the milling crowd of ‘darshanarthis’ in the passage leading to the makeshift Ram lalla temple,  at Hanuman Garhi temple, Kanak Bhawan, at shops selling yellow  besan laddoos and marigold garlands for offering at temples, the talk of who is going to win elections would not extract much response. However, those who opened up as BJP voters, said the local party candidate hardly mattered for them. ”What matters is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

”We have not seen and heard of him after the 2014 elections,” says one local shop keeper in Ayodhya about the BJP candidate. When asked whether he would not be voting for the BJP this time, the response is surprisingly not in the negative. ”We are voting for Modiji. It is he who has given us a ”mazboot sarkar”(strong government) and taken on the ”enemies” on the border.

For a local rickshaw puller from an adjoining village, the pucca house delivered to him recently, and for a flour mill owner and a tailor, the improvement in the power situation in rural areas and small towns are evidence of the ”vikas”(development) carried out by the Modi government.

Modi seem to have succeeded in making national security ( in the context of Pakistan) as an issue for rural voters who would otherwise not bother about what was happening on the border). He has been able to project himself as the only one among the available lot who can secure the country from any external threat.

From tempo driver to rickshaw puller and small vendors, all are talking about Modi as someone who can meet any challenge with firm hand.

There were found many during the car journey from Rudauli, (the most famous town of Avadh which falls in the constituency) to Faizabad and Ayodhya, who would not declare themselves as BJP sympathiser, but would admit that ”Modi’s prachar”(Modi’s publicity) was ”zabardast”(high voltage) and the ”gathbandhan”(SP-BSP alliance) and the Congress were ”no match” for them.

But that is not all the story. The demonetisation has taken its toll with thousands from villages and small towns earning in big cities having been forced to pack up for their homes as factory after factory closed in the wake of the note ban. The gas connection has reached rural house holds, but the poor in absence of a job and in the face of farm distress do not have money for second filling of the cylinder costing about Rs 1000.

The GST has its impact too. But the trading class would not open up. They have to work with whoever comes to power. The lynching of Muslims and dalits and sustained hate speeches by BJP leaders seem to have helped a sort of anti-Modi polarisation.

One Muslim auto workshop owner told this correspondent,” Myself and my family and all ”Mohalla walas”(residents of his locality) have traditionally been Congress supports but this time it is different.” When asked what was different this time, he would not say much except, ” You are in the know of things, you can see for yourself.”

In the last election, riding on the Modi wave, BJP candidate Lallu Singh had secured 491761 votes, while Mitrasen Yadav of the Samajwadi Party had come second,  bagging 208986 votes, and the Jitendra Kumar Singh of the BSP had secured 141827 votes, coming  third . The Congress’s Nirmal Khatri had finished  a poor fourth.

This time the SP and BSP have formed an alliance. This combined with the fact that many traditional voters of the Congress are today having a second thought over sticking to their old loyalties under the ”changed circumstances” as many would describe the situation, has made the goings  tough for Lallu Singh.

”Is baar to Kante ki takkar hai,” ( This time it is going to be a  close finish) was the admission from the both and SP-BSP and BJP quarters.

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