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Will develop Ayodhya in line with Lord Ram’s ideals, says its first Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyaya

Ayodhya’s first mayor Rishikesh Upadhyaya said he dreamt of the temple coming up at the Ramjanmbhoomi with him as a Mayor. The case is pending in the Supreme Court and the day-to-day hearing will begin from December 5.

lucknow Updated: Dec 06, 2017 10:38 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Ayodhya,UP civic polls,UP civic polls results
BJP’s Rishikesh Upadhyaya is Ayodhya’s first mayor.(HT Photo)

The temple town Ayodhya’s first mayor Rishikesh Upadhyaya of the BJP says he will change the face of township from a decaying urban sprawl to a clean and hygienic place within a year.

Ayodhya saw its first municipal corporation election last month. The urban local body of Faizabad-Ayodhya was upgraded to a municipal corporation in May this year and named Ayodhya Nagar Nigam (Ayodhya Municipal Corporation). Upadhyaya who was elected the mayor on Friday spoke to Pankaj Jaiswal in Ayodhya. Here are the excerpts:

What’s your priority now when that you have been elected as the first mayor of Ayodhya?

Bhagwaan Ram ke adarshon ke anuroop Ayodhya ka vikas aur sondriyakaran kiya jayega (The priority is to develop and beautify Ayodhya in accordance with Lord Ram’s ideals. Ayodhya old world charm will be kept intact. Greenery will be enhanced, and the town will be made clean and hygienic.

Ayodhya has been so much in focus. But why is it so underdeveloped, with filth, debris, broken roads, and lacks civic amenities?

It is all because of previous regimes. When BJP had a chief minister in Kalyan Singh, Rs 21 crore were sanctioned for the town, but his government went away and the subsequent government did not do anything for the town.

But then, how will you develop it now?

Not me alone. Ayodhya never had this good before. We have BJP governments at all the three places — the Centre, the state, and now the urban local body. You will see the difference within a year. We will implement the civic polls manifesto that the chief minister Yogi Adityanath had released before the polls.

What do you have to say about chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s focus on Ayodhya?

That’s nothing new. He is well known for his Hindu ideals and identity. And so was his guru (Mahant Avaidyanath). Since he became the chief minister, Yogi ji visited the town four times and was a regular visitor even before. It is apparent how important will be the development of Ayodhya for him as he had launched the UP’s civic polls campaign from here. He had said that rest of the state would become as dazzling as Ayodhya after the government held a grand deepotsava on the eve of Diwali.

How well do you know Ayodhya?

Like the back of my hand. I was born, brought up, educated here. My political career has all been here. I know well what has to be done where.

You are 41, must have been very small at the time of the 90s Ramjanmbhoomi movement?

Yes, I was 14 or 15 years old, but I was part of it. I had joined the Bal Swayam Sevak of RSS. I was part of the teams that provided tea, refreshments to karsevaks at that time at the Katha Kunj Karyalaya close to the Ramjanmbhoomi.

What’s your strength in the Nagar Nigam?

I am the mayor, and of the 60 corporators that Ayodhya has elected, 32 are BJP’s. (Unabashedly he says) We will take this figure of 32 to 50 by winning them over to our ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’

What about Muslims in Ayodhya?

Why ask about them separately? They all are part of Ayodhya. It feels awkward when they are talked about separately. We are not the kinds that will not provide electricity to Muslim area. Gone are the days of such governments who deprived Muslim of amenities to maintain vote banks. It is famous all over that nowhere in the world Muslims are as safe and secure as they are in Ayodhya.

How do you see your victory?

It is the blessings of Hanumanji (Lord Hanuman) and chief minister Yogi ji. I knew I would win, but when the result came in, I felt — here comes a big responsibility. Soon after the results, I first went to Hanumanradhi, then to Rangmahal temple, met Mahant Nritya Gopaldas ji at Choti Chavanai, Mahant Ramdas Ji at Naka Hanumangadhi, and then met Ayodhya people. Ramjanmbhoomi was closed much before the results came in. But now I will. I am a frequent devotee there.

And what do you have to say about the Ram Temple?

I dream of the temple coming up at the Ramjanmbhoomi with me as a Mayor here. The case is pending in the Supreme Court and the day-to-day hearing will begin from December 5. The High Court had already recognised the spot as Ramjanmbhoomi.

(Rishikesh got 44,642 (44.9%) votes, while the nearest rival Samajwadi Party’s candidate (a transgender) Gulshan Bindu got 41,041 votes).

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 14:32 IST