What voters of Ayodhya in UP want: It’s not religion, but development

Written by: Maitreyee
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Lucknow, Feb 27: On Monday, the residents of the ancient temple town of Uttar Pradesh--Ayodhya-the hot-bed of communal politics--voted during the fifth phase of the 'grand' Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2017. This time, the voting for the assembly elections in the state has been divided into seven phases. The last two phases of voting are scheduled on March 4 and 8. The results of the elections will be declared on March 11.

As reporters from the mainstream media landed in Ayodhya to gauge the mood of the town, most residents of the town openly expressed what they want from the next government. A first-time voter, who is pursuing his college degree, told NDTV that he wants job opportunities for the youths in the town.

Babri Masjid

The 18-year-old, who also helps his father in his shop, added that construction of the controversial Ram temple could take place anytime in Ayodhya. "The leaders should concentrate on developing the town."

The television footages clearly indicate--those who have not visited Ayodhya--how badly the town lacks basic civic amenities. From garbage strewn on small alleys of the town to crumbling buildings, the ancient town looks really 'ancient'.

Another Muslim youth echoes similar sentiments to the first-time voter mentioned earlier. "Religion is not the issue for the voters here. We want development, job opportunities and better civic amenities."

However, politicians from all the political parties are guilty of fanning communal politics in the town. In every election rally-issues of the Babri Masjid demolition and the construction of Ram temple in the disputed site invariably pop up. The voters--who are seemingly tired of communal politics--say Ayodhya has much more than the Babri Masjid and Ram temple.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ayodhya is a prestige constituency. In fact, the rise of the party across the country is credited to the Ram Mandir movement. After the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, the party has won the assembly seat four times. However, in the last assembly elections in 2012, the Samajwadi Party bagged the constituency.

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