Ayodhya seers, youths: Jobs, education more important; Ram Mandir a political gimmick
Saiyed Danish for IndiaTomorrow.net,
Ayodhya, Feb 26: As UP polls proceed towards the fifth phase of polling, high-octane drama and personal attacks are gaining momentum in the campaigning by various parties. Different regions of polling have seen different ways leaders of belligerent parties attracting the voters. Especially, third phase onwards, where signs of polarization are rampant.
On February 20, PM Narendra Modi in his Fatehpur speech raked up the controversial ‘Shamshaan-Kabristan’ issue and claimed that devotees in Diwali do not get as much electricity as Muslims do in the month of Ramzan. It invited the ire and wide spread condemnation from his opponents. Attempt of polarizing voters in the UP East belt, where Yogi Adityanath, MP from Gorakhpur, and his Hindu Yuva Vahini commands influence in the adjoining district, is happening without any filters.
From Vinay Katiyar to Adityanath, BJP leaders are openly resorting to communal rhetoric replacing debates on important issues of development. On one hand, Vinay Katiyar has promised the construction of Ram Mandir and on the other hand Yogi Adityanath made remarks about Muslim graveyards and Karbala in his Gonda speech.
This has yet gain made Ayodhya, a centre of polarized political gambit, as it votes in the fifth phase of the elections. Proving the common perception of saints in Ayaodhya wrong, some seers there do not seem to be identifying with the revived calls for Ram Mandir and term it a drama for political gains.
Ayodhya seat has become all the more interesting as BSP has fielded a Muslim candidate Bazmi Siddiqui, from there. It is set to challenge the old equations. SP has fielded sitting candidate Tej Narayan Pandey who defeated BJP in 2012, which was a first in 21 years.
Ayodhya’s 20% Muslims voters will also in a fix as to which candidate to vote. This should be remembered, that BJP lost the elections by a margin of only 5,000 votes. Ayodhya has around 3 lakh voters with 60,000 Dalit votes. BJP in Ayodhya is openly bragging about Ram Temple being a part of its agenda. Ved Prakash Gupta is the BJP candidate from the pivotal seat.
“I do not think that there is any genuine issue of Ram Mandir this time. The matter is in the court and people know it. There are some leaders from BJP who are trying to create such a confusion but for us, development and education of Ayodhya is the main issue,” Mahant Satendra Das told Indiatomorrow.net
Another seer, Mahant Askand Das also sees Ram Mandir as a lesser issue. “Although our faith is attached to Lord Ram but there is no question of benefiting from it through elections. If you ask me, I can say that these leaders (referring to Yogi Adityanath) are not even fit to take these issues. We know it that all of them remember Ram Temple during polls. It is just a diversion on real issues.
Indiatomorrow.net also reached out to the victims who lost their lands and farms due to the land grab in the name of Ram Temple in 1988. “Our case is in the Supreme Court since 1988-89, when our lands were snatched overnight in the name of the temple. They told us we will get compensation for that at the rate Rs. 15 per square feet at that time, but we never got any compensation,” said Vineet Maurya one of the victims of the land grab.
“This Ram Temple issue is a bogus plank of BJP and media should ask us who have directly suffered in the name of this farce,” he added.
“So far they have only brought us misery in the name of Ram. They have no shame and one day Lord Ram will certainly punish them for their act,” said an angered Parashuram, another victim of land grab whose case is also in Supreme Court.
“The main issue of the youth of Ayodhya is unemployment. Poor education and health facilities. Ram Temple controversy has gobbled up our basic issue. No leader can bypass these issues now. We will not let them do it,” says Vineet.
Shah Alam, an activist and director of a media initiative Awam Ka Cinema said what perturbs him most that some media houses have stopped referring the place as ‘disputed site’, rather they call it ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi’ in newspapers, this has also angered a section of society and somehow helps right wing in polarizing situations. However, people do not want rubbish promises in Ayodhya anymore and I try to show their aspirations by organizing Ayodhya Film Festival.