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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Caste takes centre stage in Ayodhya as Ram temple consecration fervour ebbs

Almost everyone in the town admit that the fervour generated during the consecration ceremony has ebbed considerably making the political pundits wonder if Ram temple, which finds mention in the speeches of the BJP star campaigners, including PM Modi, will have any impact on the outcome of the poll on Faizabad Lok Sabha seat.
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 10:07 IST
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 10:07 IST

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Ayodhya: For those, who had visited Ayodhya four months ago when Ram Lala was consecrated in a grand ceremony by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it may be hard to imagine that it is the same town which was flocked by millions of devotees from across the country after the rituals.

The streets are almost deserted, especially during the day, as the mercury reaches 40 degrees and barely a few devotees are seen in and around the Ram temple. The number of daily flights to the Ayodhya airport from different parts of the country has declined by around 50 per cent due to lack of passengers.

Almost everyone in the town admit that the fervour generated during the consecration ceremony has ebbed considerably making the political pundits wonder if Ram temple, which finds mention in the speeches of the BJP star campaigners, including PM Modi, will have any impact on the outcome of the poll on Faizabad Lok Sabha seat. Though Faizabad district was rechristened as Ayodhya, it still exists in the record of the Election Commission.

The response of the electorate of the constituency is mixed.

‘’It is foolish to think that the Ram temple issue will not affect the polls... millions of devotees visited the town after the consecration ceremony... they must have seen the grand Ram temple and the development in Ayodhya,’’ says Sushil Kumar Pandey, a resident of the town.

Some, like Mahendra Yadav, also a resident of Ayodhya, however, differ. ‘’The people are now talking about rising prices, reservation, competitive exam paper leaks and stray cattle... these are more pressing issues,’’ he said.

‘’The road show by the prime minister here on May 5 was intended to revive the tempo generated by the consecration ceremony as the BJP was wary of the people’s loss of interest in the Ram temple issue,’’ he said.

Some others think that the BJP must win here and a defeat in Ayodhya will be the biggest humiliation for the saffron party. Interestingly, BJP candidate Lalloo Singh, the sitting MP, had defeated the Samajwadi Party (SP) nominee Anand Sen Yadav by sixty five thousand votes. Congress nominee Nirmal Khatri had then secured fifty three thousand votes. SP and Congress have an alliance in this election and hence the apprehensions within the BJP.

Furthermore, SP candidate Awadhesh Prasad hails from the ‘Pasi’ (Dalit) community, which has a sizeable presence in the constituency. Kumar’s candidature, however, has not gone down well with Anand Sen Yadav, whose family wields considerable influence on the ‘Yadavs’, considered to be the core voters of the SP.

Anand Sen’s brother, Arvind Sen, is in the fray as a candidate of CPI and he is expected to make a dent in the SP vote bank. ‘’While the Pasi community may support Awadhesh, the Yadav votes are certain to be divided,’’ said Subhash Yadav, a resident of Milkipur in the constituency. To add to the woes of the SP candidate, one of the party’s MLAs from the district Abhai Singh has switched loyalty and is supporting the BJP.

Prasad, who is the sitting MLA from Milkipur assembly seat, has a clean image and is considered to be a mass leader. He went straight to the famous Hanumangarhi Temple in Ayodhya to pay obeisance after being declared the SP nominee. His wife Sona Devi has been the chairperson of Zila Panchayat.

BSP has fielded Sachhidanand Pandey, a former BJP leader, who appears to be getting the support of a section of the Brahmins, who are considered to be core voters of the saffron party.

The caste equations in the constituency make the contest an even one. Yadavs form the biggest chunk of the OBC voters here along with 1.5 lakh Muslims and 4.5 lakh SC voters. Political experts say that much will depend on the OBC voters, especially the Yadavs. ‘’SP will stand to gain if it manages to placate Anand Sen Yadav’s family and receives support from the Pasi community... Muslims are already with the SP,’’ said a local scribe in Ayodhya.

One will get to know only on June 4 if the Ram temple issue overrides the caste in this constituency. Polling will be held here in the fifth phase of elections on May 20.

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Published 17 May 2024, 10:07 IST

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