In Ayodhya, no place for mandir in BJP's poll campaign

As the Ayodhya issue remains a mere mention in the saffron outfit’s election manifesto, at Ground Zero there is an air of indifference. Hardly any one questions the BJP stand except for some saints committed to the so called “Ram Janambhoomi movement”.

Have you heard any BJP leader raising the issue of Ram temple during the current Lok Sabha elections? Obviously not. The once emotive issue is as good as forgotten.

As the Ayodhya issue remains a mere mention in the saffron outfit’s election manifesto, at Ground Zero there is an air of indifference. Hardly any one questions the BJP stand except for some saints committed to the so called “Ram Janambhoomi movement”.

Ram is not mentioned either in election meetings or in door-to-door campaigns. “Mandir wahi banayenge” slogans are no more heard.

Deenanath Gupta, a trader on the main road leading to the make-shift temple on the disputed site where Babri Masjid once stood, says he would go by the BJP decision. “If BJP has not taken up this issue, it is up to the party. Why should we differ with it? Maybe, they think such a stand is good.”

Prabodh Pant, a student who came with his friends to take a look at the Sarayu Ghat, is fine with it.

“It is the media which was critical of BJP mixing religion with politics. Why should it matter if BJP is not raising it?” Many voices in this temple town seem to echo these sentiments. The issue, which once whipped up emotions not just in Ayodhya but across the country, catapulted the BJP from a mere two seats in the Lok Sabha to the seat of power in a matter of a decade.

But a few beg to differ. “What can one do if BJP does not want the temple? But the sant community in Ayodhya and elsewhere have not given up on the temple. In any case, we never wanted the BJP support or that of any party,” said a saint at the entrance of the crowded Hanuman Garhi temple.

A strong critic of the BJP, Ramshankar Tripathi, a retired professor of Awadh University, told DH: “BJP knows Ram mandir issue no longer fetches votes, and it knows that nationalism does. That’s why Ram is replaced by Pulwama and Balakot.”

Modi rally tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public meeting at Maya Bazar, 25 km from here on May 1 but is unlikely to raise the Ayodhya issue. He would not visit the make-shift temple either.

Some BJP supporters feel that he may make a mention of the Ram temple issue to placate the core vote base of the party but most accept that this may not happen. “Even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is not raising the issue saying it is sub-judice. It is however, true that a section within party supporters has a feeling that the BJP has abandoned the issue,” said a local BJP office-bearer.

However, a Samajwadi Party supporter pointed out: “Modi is just coming here to seek votes, that’s all. He knows the party is doing badly in the Awadh region. The BJP especially doesn’t want to lose the Faizabad seat where Ayodhya is situated. Else, a wrong message will go to its support base.”

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