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Temple not on people's agenda in Ayodhya

Thursday February 09, 2012 12:58:52 PM, IANS

Ayodhya: The Ram temple was clearly not on the agenda of those who voted in this Hindu pilgrim town in the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Ordinary men and women showed much more interest in development issues than the temple, which has ceased to be a talking point even among the saffron-clad sadhus here.

For many, the makeshift temple hurriedly built after the razing of the Babri mosque Dec 6, 1992 is enough -- for now.

"A temple is very much in place. I am sure one day we will also have a grand structure. What we need is better roads, cleaner streets, brighter lighting and improved civic amenities in this town," said 30-year-old Vishambhar Das, a Hindu holy man who was barely a teenager when the 16th century Babri mosque was pulled down by Hindu mobs.

"Except for lip service, the people of Ayodhya have not got anything concrete all these years. The only thing visible is the wealth that successive leaders have amassed in the name of Ayodhya," he said.

Das spoke to IANS after stepping out of a crowded polling centre behind Ayodhya's famous Hanuman Garhi temple.

"That is the reason I chose to vote for the candidate who was least corrupt," he added, while refusing to divulge which party he considered the lesser evil.

Ayodhya, about 700 km east of New Delhi, was one of the 55 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where polling took place Wednesday. After six more rounds of balloting, the votes will be counted March 6.

Seconding Das, a priest, Mukesh Shastri, said: "Times have changed, people's perceptions have changed. We have had enough of rhetoric but what the people of Ayodhya are looking up to is comprehensive development."

He felt that some work had been done "but there was need for much more to facilitate tourists on whom the economy of this city depends".

Karori Mal, 38, who runs a small electrical goods shop here, felt that the people of Ayodhya had gone beyond the temple-mosque row that had governed their lives for over a decade.

"After all a temple cannot give us food," he said. "Instead, the temple issue has often badly affected the livelihood of people here."

The trader does not deny his respect for Lord Ram and for the demand for a grand temple at the site of the razed Babri mosque.

Many here were clearly not impressed by the rhetoric from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) patriarch L.K. Advani when he campaigned for his party legislator Lalloo Singh, who is seeking re-election from here.

Lalloo Singh, a leading BJP figure in Ayodhya, has both supporters and detractors.

"Yes, Lalloo Singh is easily accessible to all and sundry. And there is no denying that he has given Ayodhya better roads and other things," said Ramji, an electrician.

But 25-year-old physically challenged Jagram Yadav, who came to the polling booth in his tricycle, felt differently.

"It is time for change as Lalloo Singh has failed to live upto the expectations of the people... He has failed to deliver."







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(Photo: IANS/Amlan Paliwal)



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