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
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,"
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
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
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
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
"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."