Battle for UP: In Ayodhya, it is ‘Ram’ over ‘kaam’

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With Ayodhya set to face its first election after the construction of Ram temple began, a high voltage campaign is being witnessed in the holy city which is revolving around ‘ram’ rather than ‘kaam (work)’.

The BJP has gone into an overdrive to assert the fact that it is responsible for the Ram temple construction while the opposition is driving home the point that the temple is being built on Supreme Court orders.

Top BJP leaders who have campaigned in Ayodhya are underlining the fact that the temple construction was possible only because of the Modi government.

They claim to have ushered in an era of ‘Ram Rajya’ and cite the ‘Deepotsav’ programme as an example.

BJP MLA Ved Prakash Gupta, is a local businessman. He is seeking re-election in the name of ‘Ram’.

“For five years, he was never there for us and now he wants us to vote for him because of Ram,” says Ramnesh Tripathi, another local businessman.

Gupta hopes to ride high on the wave of Ram and is claiming credit for temple construction. He is confident of his victory and says that the holy city is witnessing world class development which will put it on the global map.

Some of his over-enthusiastic supporters even started distributing packets of ‘Ram Raj’ – soil from the temple construction site-but were later stopped.

Since 1991, the BJP has lost Ayodhya Sadar seat only once in 2012 when Tej Narain Pandey of Samajwadi Party had defeated its candidate, Lallu Singh.

Pandey is again the SP candidate from here and his narrative revolves around ‘kaam’ rather than ‘Ram’.

“Ram belongs to everyone and is not the copyright of the BJP. The way for the construction of the temple was cleared by the Supreme Court and not the BJP government. I am banking on the work done by the Akhilesh government and no one can deny it,” says Pandey.

Pandey, a former student leader, is trying to cash in on the local resentment prevailing due to the proposed demolition of hundreds of shops and houses for road widening.

He is also banking on the support of 62,000 Brahmin voters and 37,000 Yadav voters to give him a head start.

The BSP has fielded Ravi Maurya and the Congress candidate is Rita Maurya. Both are first timers in the election and hope to get the advantage of their party votes.

Ayodhya goes to polls on March 3.

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