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UP poll: Mood in Ayodhya religious
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Ayodhya, May 3
The people of this historic temple town may feel let-down by the BJP for its failure to construct the promised Ram mandir at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid, but when it comes to casting their vote, their support for the saffron party still remains unshaken and all in the name of Lord Rama and Hindutva.

The Ram temple issue no longer ignites the same passions among the people here, nor do they believe that the BJP will ever be able to keep its longstanding promise to build a grand Ram mandir. In fact, BJP president overlooked this issue when he addressed an election meeting here a few days ago.

But, the overwhelming religious mood in this “dharam nagari” and the blind following for Lord Rama will drive the electorate to vote for the party, which, they believe, spearheaded the campaign for the temple and is synonymous with Hindutva.

“It has become a prestige issue here. People believe it would be a great shame if the BJP were to loose in Lord Rama's birthplace,” remarked Ramesh Tiwari, a local government employee.

Cadres of the BJP here have successfully tapped into this public sentiment and look all set to succeed as their candidate Lallu Singh appears far ahead of his opponents.

The BJP is also helped in this effort by the teeming numbers of mahants and sadhus, who wield considerable influence among the local population, and whose preference for the saffron party and its Hindutva agenda is well-known. Although the BJP does not have somebody of Mahant Paramhans’s stature on its side, it does boast of the support of several others, including Mahant Nritya Gopaldas and Ram Vilas Vedanti.

“Although most sadhus here share a strong comfort level with the BJP, almost all senior mahants here are aligned with one political party or the other and campaign openly for them,” remarked Dilip Kumar Gupta, who runs a sweets shop in Hanuman Garhi.

Not to be left behind, the other political parties have also not been averse to reaching out to the local mahants for support. Even Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had endeared himself to the Muslims after he fired at the Hindu kar sevaks at Ayodhya in the late eighties, has the blessing of several local god men.

Mahant Gynadas of Hanuman Garhi and Bhavanth Das Yadav are openly aligned with the SP. They are even organising felicitation programmes for the chief minister on his visits to the town.

Former senior minister and a confidant of SP leader Beni Prasad Verma, who is contesting from Ayodhya with Congress support, has also jumped on to this bandwagon. Mahanat Murari Das in Hanuman Garhi admits that he has been campaigning for Verma as he has known him for over a decade. “Besides, I also believe the Congress is the only party, which does not divide people on religious lines,” said Mahant Murari Das.

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