Ayodhya voted on February 27, but the major parties that should have spoken about development are still stuck with the mandir-masjid issues.
After the demolition of the Babri Masjid, political parties have been hankering for the construction of Ram temple. But, the issue of temple construction has now become irrelevant for the young population in Uttar Pradesh. In this Uttar Pradesh elections, the government needs to focus on youth’s primary concern – job and employment. People want work opportunities and development in the state, not a Ram temple that the Bhartiya Janta Party is still stressing on. Gopal Verma, 23, is a student at a college for five years now and will cast his vote for the second time this year. “Our politicians should first do something for the development of the society and then do construct mandirs,” he says.
Tourism in Ayodhya, believed to be the birthplace of Ram, needs to be developed. Rather than playing politics over mandir-masjid in Ayodhya, the government should promote tourism that will help develop the city. The government had identified three circuits in Ayodhya – Ramayana Circuit, Krishna Circuit and Buddhist Circuit – to boost tourism. However, nothing much has been done in terms of improving the infrastructure or providing facilities to the tourists. Tourism has great potential to earn foreign exchange, empower women and generate employment. The city needs a complete overhaul in terms of infrastructure. The government should modify the city and provide facilities to attract tourists.
Ayodhya has always voted for BJP. This time the BSP has fielded a Muslim candidate in Ayodhya. This is the first time when a mainstream party fielded a Muslim candidate from the constituency. Of Ayodhya’s three lakh voters, 50,000 are Muslims. Usually, Samajwadi Party is known to get all the Muslim votes, but the nomination of a Muslim candidate by the BSP may split votes between the BSP and the SP. “The candidate nominated by BSP will get the benefit of being a Muslim, but some Muslim votes will go to SP since the party is seen as an alternative to BJP,” says Raghubar, a resident of Ayodhya.
People are divided on the issue of demonetization. While some say that it will have no effect on the elections, others feel BJP may have to lose some votes because of the harassment people had to face during demonetization.
“In the past two years, SP has done some good work. Vote bank politics of BSP and BJP may be ineffective this time. The BSP’s fielding a Muslim candidate and BJP’s push for Ram temple are not going to work because people are not interested in the temple anymore. They want employment and progress,” says Sheela Yadav, another resident of Ayodhya.