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Faizabad Lok Sabha Elections: Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh’s Ram Rajya, Modi-Yogi Double Engine Against INDIA’s Caste Play

There are 80 parliamentary seats in the state of Uttar Pradesh, including the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency. It is under the general category and includes portions of the districts of Barabanki and Faizabad. Five Legislative Assembly districts currently make up the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency: Dariyabad in the Barabanki district, Rudauli, Milkipur (SC), Bikapur, and Ayodhya in the Faizabad district. This constituency contains Ayodhya and Faizabad, the well-known twin cities. On May 20, the constituency will cast ballots in the fifth phase.

Lallu Singh of the BJP has been the MP since 2014; Nirmal Khatri of the Congress was the one before her (2009)

Awadhesh Prasad (SP), Lallu Singh (BJP), and Sacchidanand Pandey (BSP) are the candidates.

DYNAMICS POLITICAL
BJP in Pole Position: The Ram Mandir is the major electoral platform of the BJP, which has nominated incumbent Member of Parliament Lallu Singh for a third term from the Faizabad Lok Sabha Constituency. However, the BJP has made it apparent that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also running for office, in addition to Singh. The party has taken the lead thanks to its vote-gathering campaign in support of these two leaders, the Ram Mandir, and Ayodhya’s amazing makeover.

Lallu Singh, a five-time Ayodhya MLA, won the Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 election by an overwhelming majority of 2.82 lakh votes. This margin narrowed to little over 65,000 votes in 2019, raising concerns within the party.

Nonetheless, the state of affairs was quite different in 2019 than it is now. First of all, the Ram Mandir land dispute matter was still pending in court, and the people were becoming impatient. Singh has to contend with anti-incumbency. Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, the partnership between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party helped them secure 43% of the vote, as opposed to the BJP’s 49.1%.

Several houses and stores on encroached land were razed during the building of Ayodhya, which caused great anxiety for the party. Although the government provided compensation, many said that it was insufficient and ignored individuals who leased houses or operated businesses out of rented spaces. The administration has made an effort to diffuse this situation ever since. It breathed a sigh of relief in 2023 when Girish Pati Tripathi of the party defeated the SP by about 36,000 votes to retain the mayoral seat in Ayodhya.

The Yogi administration was re-elected to power in the state in the 2022 assembly elections. It won four seats in the Faizabad parliamentary constituency, including Dariyabad, Rudauli, Bikapur, and Ayodhya, while the SP won the SC-reserved Milkipur. With more than 85,000 votes and a 45.1% vote share, the BJP defeated the SP’s 37.9%, the BSP’s 11.3%, and the Congress’s 1.3%. The BJP is certain that the BSP would hurt the INDIA bloc candidate more than the saffron party in the race for Dalit votes if there wasn’t an agreement between them.

After five years in 2019, Ayodhya has undergone a significant political transition, as shown by the construction of the Ram Mandir and the renovation of its infrastructure. The party no longer prioritizes opposition to incumbents, and the BSP and SP are not allied. Because the BJP is predicted to win by a wide margin, this election is thus likely to be crucial as it ushers in a new chapter in Ayodhya’s political history.

A Sentiment of “Ram Rajya”: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s regular visits to the constituency every three to four weeks play a significant role in this situation. He has been approachable, according to on-the-ground observers, listening to their complaints and providing solutions with a group of employees and bureaucrats assigned specifically to this task. This has successfully stoked rumors that CM Yogi may run for parliament from Ayodhya when he joins national politics. The chief minister’s accessibility and popularity outweigh those of BJP contender Lallu Singh’s MP position.

Another issue that voters frequently bring up is that Ayodhya has been neglected, deprived of development and prestige, and embroiled in caste and religious conflicts for the majority of its post-independence existence. However, under the BJP leadership, the city has been elevated to the status of a global spiritual hub for the Hindu faith, realizing its full potential and changing its course for the better.

Residents in and around Ayodhya are in awe at the city’s astounding makeover, which includes a brand-new airport, a completely renovated train station, new roads, bridges, highways, hotels, restaurants, and more. There has also been an increase in construction activity in Faizabad town, including road expansion. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to support the construction of a Ram Mandir on the disputed property, the city’s real estate values have increased fourfold. In order to accommodate the millions of visitors who come to Ayodhya each year from India and other countries, construction is underway. Large and small retailers and traders alike are seeing a surge in sales. In essence, the government is credited with fulfilling its pledge to provide the economic opportunities linked to the magnificent Ram Temple.

In conclusion, regarding the Ram Mandir itself, the BJP has been effective in portraying itself as the leader of the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign, from the 1990 Ram Rath Yatra to the temple’s quick construction and opening. According to the BJP’s storyline, it prevailed in court and accelerated the temple’s construction, completing it four years after the November 2019 ruling. Hindu electors in Ayodhya have been further influenced by the Prime Minister’s speech stating the principles of a Ram Rajya and the nationally broadcast Pran Pratishtha ceremony in his presence.

BJP Feeds Off Opposition’s Dilemma: The opposition parties’ stance on the Ram Mandir greatly favors the BJP. Although leaders of the Congress and Samajwadi Party opposed the decades-long movement on multiple occasions, the opposition became uneasy as it approached its inevitable success because it had to deal with two issues: first, it couldn’t join a movement led by the BJP, and second, it was afraid of alienating its Muslim supporters.

It has been effective in portraying their politics as anti-Hindu. It has put into practice a well-known saying, “Jab tai darshan nehi, tab tab vote nehi,” which basically means that opposition leaders shouldn’t be granted any votes as long as they don’t go to the Ram Temple and obtain blessings. Prominent opposition figures have not yet visited the shrine, including the Gandhi family and Akhilesh Yadav. Furthermore, the BJP often challenges their choice to decline an invitation to attend the January inaugural event.

The Samajwadi Party, the main opposition party, has also been accused by the BJP of being the party whose government shot at the followers of Lord Ram, alluding to the 1990 Ram Janmabhoomi movement in Ayodhya when police opened fire on “karsevaks” who had congregated there. The BJP’s campaign is bolstered by the Congress party’s history of shifting positions on the movement, its government’s Supreme Court declaration that there was no historical evidence to support the belief that Lord Ram had actually existed, and the party’s former leader Kapil Sibal’s involvement in the legal matter as the Sunni Waqf board’s representative.

Although the candidate of the India bloc depends on the Muslim-Yadav-Dalit equation, in which Muslims account for around 17% of the vote and Dalits for 24.3%, it is unlikely that Yadav and Dalit votes would properly consolidate in his favor. The BJP’s social programs and Ram Rajya politics attract a sizable portion of Yadav and Dalit voters. Furthermore, the BSP anticipates losing a sizable portion of its main electorate, the Jatav voters.

The INDIA bloc alliance’s partner, the Samajwadi Party, has proposed a well-known Dalit leader from this unreserved seat as part of their strategy. The lone SP MLA in the Faizabad LS seat is Awadhesh Prasad, a member of the Dalit Kori group who was elected in 2022 from the Milkipur (SC) assembly constituency. Having held the position for nine terms as an MLA, he hopes to mobilize the constituency’s 5.5 lakh or so Dalit population in favor of him. The opposition expects Dalits, who voted for the BJP in past elections in large numbers, to join them.

The Samajwadi Party also intends to capitalize on the Muslim-Yadav (MY) factor; nevertheless, there are concerns that the Modi-Yogi twin engine government, its Hindutva policies, and its construction binge in Ayodhya may have some influence over local voters, particularly Yadav voters.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Awadesh Prasad is running for the seat on the strength of his personal popularity, asking Lord Ram for his blessings. He won in Milkipur in 2022 by a margin of more than 13,000 votes. Invoking Lord Ram in his rallies, he has echoed the bloc’s electoral appeal to protect democracy and the constitution from the BJP, much like his opponent.

In the race for Dalit votes, the SP and BSP are competing with each other. With a tall Dalit leader in the race, the SP seeks to limit the negative effects that BSP contender Sacchidanand Pandey, a Brahmin, may cause. Without forming an alliance with the SP, the BSP received 11.3% of the vote in the 2022 Assembly elections, compared to the 37.9% received by the SP and 45.1% by the BJP. This suggested that under comparable voting trends, a 2019-style SP-BSP coalition may have defeated the BJP for the seat in 2024, but because there isn’t one, the SP is uneasy about the BSP’s involvement in this election.

Recently, the BSP-formerly-affiliated Syed Abbas Ali Zaidi Rushdie Mian was reintegrated into the SP. Former Rudauli MLA Rushdie Mian was a candidate for the Faizabad BSP ticket back in the day. By doing this, the SP seeks to stop the two parties from further dividing Muslim voters.

ESSENTIAL ISSUE
Pay: It is certain that the topic of pay will come up during the election. Many people in the area lost a lot of land to the government while the Ram Path was being widened. The public had anticipated fair recompense, and reports from January 2023 state that Rs 100 crore had been disbursed. People believe that the compensation hasn’t been sufficient, however. People are upset that their pay was ten times less than what the market would bear, rather than outraged. Approximately 2,200 shops and 3,100 residences were impacted by the project; some of them were completely dismantled.

Transformation: Due to the city’s involvement in one of the largest religious court battles in the nation, many, particularly the younger generation, had given up on the city before the 2019 ruling. Nonetheless, the city has changed since the decision. People who had given up and were getting ready to leave the city now see promise for growth and advancement in the economy. To provide locals and visitors with the greatest facilities possible, municipal utilities, including public restrooms, sewage systems, water pipelines, and roadways, have all been improved. The government is currently the only thing the people may expect to improve the current transformation and bring prosperity to Ayodhya.

Condition of Seers: Over the last five years in Ayodhya, despite reformational activity, one thing has remained constant: the state of the seers. The government has not announced any plans to feed the seers, despite the fact that several NGOs are mobilizing thousands of rupees from all across the country to do so. There’s a good chance that this disappointed them, but rumors have it that the Ram Temple has lifted everyone’s spirits.

Mosque: Muslims in Ayodhya have expressed disappointment at the sluggish progress on the mosque’s construction, even if they do not dislike the Ram Mandir. The Supreme Court had ordered that the mosque and mandir be built concurrently, but the mosque’s construction was delayed. Even after the land was given to the Waqf board, nothing has changed. This year, the building got underway in April.

Civic Amenities: Although there have been significant changes in Ayodhya, the situation outside the city has not improved. There are now no public schools in Dhannipur, the location of the mosque; the only educational options are private and tiny madrasas. The two surrounding settlements are divided by a road, and none has a main health center. Faizabad is the nearest hospital, and it takes 30 to 45 minutes to get there.

Trash Dumping and River Pollution: Because of the careless disposal of wastewater into the river, Saryu’s water pollution has been reaching dangerously high levels. Nonetheless, the Saryu River wastewater dumping was stopped by the government as a solution to the problem. The municipal corporation has put in place a number of plans for its disposal, including the construction of many sewage treatment facilities (STP). In addition, a hybrid method for treating the sewage of intoxicants is being implemented. Garbage dumping is being handled alongside it and is nearly ready to be put into practice.

Ram Mandir: The main problem in Ayodhya is the Ram Mandir. There are reports that the Ram Mandir has caused widespread celebration across the constituency. The city is now on the map of the world, thanks to the temple. Major infrastructure for hospitality and tourism is being planned in order to prepare it for the influx of visitors that the temple has begun to attract. When Hindus see Ram Mandir, they are relieved. They may now celebrate since they have been waiting for this moment for about 500 years.

ENTREPRISE DEVELOPMENT
Changing Ayodhya Over the Next Ten Years: As the date of the dedication of Ram Mandir drew closer, massive development efforts were made in Ayodhya. The Ram Mandir is still the major draw, and it serves as the focal point for much of the constituency’s growth. Six months after taking office, in May 2017, the BJP administration combined the municipal boards of Ayodhya and Faizabad to form the Ayodhya Nagar Nigam, a new municipal corporation. Both the state and the Center increased their funding for infrastructure development as a result of the upgrade. Presently, the government is investing more than Rs 85,000 crore over the next ten years in an aggressive effort to completely revamp Ayodhya. A distinct new township covering 1,200 acres is part of the master plan; it will be created over the course of the next five years with an estimated expenditure of Rs 2,200 crore.

Maharishi Valmiki International Airport: The Ayodhya International Airport, which bears the name Shri Ram and was officially opened by Prime Minister Modi on December 30, 2023, is the most noteworthy infrastructure addition to the city. Beginning in February 2022, the Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram Airport is being rapidly constructed. The Ayodhya Airport is being built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,175 crore with the goal of establishing Ayodhya as a major aviation hub. The airport’s 6,500-square-meter terminal building can accommodate around 10 lakh people a year. In order to achieve GRIHA 5-star ratings, the airport’s contemporary infrastructure includes a number of sustainable elements, such as an insulated roofing system, LED lighting, rainwater collection, fountain-filled landscaping, a water treatment plant, a sewage treatment plant, and a solar power plant.

Ayodhya Dham Railway Station: The recently renovated Ayodhya railway station, now known as the Ayodhya Dham Railway Station, is a major project for the city. It is well-lit, tidy, and attractive, with better seating and restroom amenities providing a comfortable experience for both locals and tourists. Compared to the prior state of the Ayodhya station intersection, this is a major makeover. The station provides state-of-the-art amenities that are superior to those found at regular airports in terms of both convenience and quality. There is a sick room and a nursery where passengers and babies may get medical assistance in the event of a sickness or accident. It also has the biggest concourse in the nation, a fire escape, and a tourist information center. Comprehensive information is given to tourists on the area’s spiritual and tourist attractions, including the magnificent Ram Temple. In addition, the station has restrooms, escalators, cloakrooms, a food plaza, waiting areas, and elevators. In addition, the station has air conditioning throughout much of it, putting it on par with airport amenities and making it a welcome summertime feature for travelers.

Mandir Town Makeover: The district administration and state government launched a massive endeavor to completely renovate Ayodhya as the Pran Pratishtha of Shri Ram approached. Over 200 development projects, with a combined value of Rs 30,923 crore, have been completed or are in progress. The program includes the enlargement of the roadways leading to the Ram Temple, for which the UP government has set aside around Rs 797 crore in funding. The two-kilometer Ram Janmabhoomi Path, which runs from Sugriv Quila to Ram Mandir; the 850-meter Bhakti Path, which connects Shringar Hat to Ram Janmabhoomi; and the 13-kilometer Ram Path corridor, which runs from Sahadatganj to Naya Ghat, are the three paths that were shortlisted for construction and expansion work. Additionally, the Panch Kosi, which runs through Ayodhya city and the 14-Kosi Parikrama Marg, spanning the city’s periphery, have been cleared for enlargement by the UP government. Additionally, the government has renovated historic temples, ponds, and ashrams.

Road Connectivity: As the city in Uttar Pradesh develops at a dizzying rate, Ayodhya will soon gain three new highways to handle the traffic. Lakshman Path, Awadh Agman Path, and Ksheersagar Path are the three routes. The 6.70-kilometer Lakshman Path will be built as a four-lane section between Guptar Ghat and Rajghat. The 300-meter-long Awadh Agman Path will link the Ram Path with the Kshirsagar Path. The Kshirsagar Path’s third section will be around 400 meters long. Ayodhya’s road connection will be enhanced by an ambitious Rs 3,570 crore proposal by the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry. Bids are being accepted by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for a 4/6-lane highway that would cross the districts of Gonda, Basti, and Lucknow. A six-lane highway is also being planned to replace the four-lane Lucknow-Ayodhya-Gorakhpur National Highway due to increased traffic, particularly after the Ram Mandir opened.

The hospitality sector is experiencing a boom as a result of the sudden increase in visitors and pilgrims visiting Ayodhya. While the number of affordable hotels for travelers is increasing, luxury hotels are now being built in the holy town. Prior to 2020, Ayodhya lacked a hotel worthy of its reputation. There are now over fifty significant hotel development projects under progress in Ayodhya. The Taj, Marriott, Ginger, Oberoi, Trident, and Radisson are a few of these hotels. A significant hotel chain has shown interest in developing the “Raja Ki Building” into a historic hotel, and preparations are also underway to do so. On 1,200 acres, the UP Housing and Development Board has proposed to build state guest homes in a township called “Nav Ayodhya.” Hotel land will be auctioned off, and residential plots will also be available.

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