Lok Sabha elections 2019: PM Modi, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati to campaign in Ayodhya region
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been at the forefront of a campaign for the construction of a grand Ram temple at a disputed site in Ayodhya where an ancient mosque was demolished by Hindu kar sevaks (volunteers) in December 1992.Updated: Apr 26, 2019 08:52 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a rally in Ayodhya’s Maya Bazaar neighbourhood, 28 kilometers from a makeshift temple to the warrior-God Ram, on May 1. It will be his first rally in the region as Prime Minister; he had addressed public meetings there in 2009 and during the campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
In the past, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Indira Gandhi visited Ayodhya when they were Prime Ministers.
Interestingly, on the same day, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati too are set to hold a joint rally in the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency, some 70 kilometers from Ayodhya town.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been at the forefront of a campaign for the construction of a grand Ram temple at a disputed site in Ayodhya where an ancient mosque was demolished by Hindu kar sevaks (volunteers) in December 1992.
The temple issue, which is in court, hasn’t figured significantly in the three phases of the seven-phase general elections completed so far. As the election heads towards the Awadh region, of which Ayodhya is a part, Modi’s rally as well as that of the leaders of the anti-BJP alliance could bring the spotlight back to the issue.
Finding a solution to the temple tangle has always found a mention in the BJP’s “sankalp patra,” or election manifesto, but many in Ayodhya including Satyendra Das, the chief priest of the makeshift temple, have criticised the BJP for not doing enough to honour its temple commitment.
Modi’s rally in Faizabad in 2014, as the then PM candidate of the BJP, had kicked up a controversy because a picture of the proposed temple that Vishva Hindu Parishad had conceptualised formed the backdrop of the stage.
The Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency, of which Ayodhya is a part, goes to the polls in the fifth phase on May 6, five days after the Modi rally, which covers two Lok Sabha constituencies; Faizabad and Ambedkarnagar.
Modi’s visit to the makeshift temple is uncertain with most BJP leaders whom HT spoke to suggesting that in the heat and dust of the Lok Sabha campaign, the PM may not have enough time to visit it. However, a BJP leader said a final decision is yet to be taken.
“In 2014 when he and his party weren’t in power at the centre, BJP had organised a rally 10 kilometers from the makeshift temple. Now, when they are in power in both the state and the centre they are holding a rally even further away from the temple. What does that show? It would be nice to see if BJP’s top leader has time for the lord this time,” said Shoaib Khan, the state secretary of the Samajwadi Party’s minority wing.
The BJP would look to use the PM’s rally to talk about the development work it has done in the region, which is represented by betel-chewing Lallu Singh, a resident of the temple town with a carefully cultivated image of being a rustic and a simpleton.
“Under the guidance of Modiji we have done a lot for the development of the constituency,” said Lallu Singh, who has been re-nominated by the BJP from the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency.