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BJP’s Series Of Blunders That Led To Its Ayodhya Debacle

| Updated: June 5, 2024 16:04

As BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate Lallu Singh accepted defeat to Awadesh Prasad of the Samajwadi Party, a visibly distraught BJP counting agent Laxmikant Tiwari had a quite refrain. “We had worked really hard, we fought for this, but Ram Mandir consecration did not convert into votes.”

Barely four months after the consecration of the Ram temple – one of BJP’s biggest calling cards this election – the party lost the Faizabad Lok Sabha seat of which Ayodhya is a part. Even for an election that defied all exit polls predictions and saw the BJP falling well short of its own goal of 370 seats, the loss in Ayodhya was particularly stark.

Many villages in Ayodhya were angry with the land acquisition that was happening around the temple and the airport. Also, the BSP votes were transferred to the SP because Awadesh Prasad is a Dalit leader.

Awadhesh Prasad, a nine-time MLA who is among the key Dalit faces of the SP, defeated Lallu Singh, who was seeking to be re-elected for the third time, by a margin of 54,567 votes.

Prasad said, “This is a historic victory because our national president, Akhilesh Yadav, fielded me from a general seat…People have supported me regardless of caste and community.”

In the extraordinary defeat of the BJP are echoes of unemployment, inflation, land acquisition and talk of “changes in the Constitution”.

In the run-up to the elections, Lallu Singh was among the BJP leaders who said that the party needed 400 seats to “change the Constitution”.

Waiting outside the counting centre, 28-year-old Ram Kripal Yadav, a resident of Mitrasenpur village, says, “The MP should not have said this. The Constitution was one of the key issues that Awadhesh Prasad picked up and took it to his rallies.”

“The paper leak was another big factor. I am also a victim of this… Because I don’t have a job, I have started working with my father on our fields. People voted for change here because our MP did not do any work here, except for whitewashing his failures with the Ram Mandir and Ram Path (one of the four roads leading to Ayodhya),” Yadav said.

Rakesh Tiwari, a BJP supporter said the grandeur of the Temple may have impressed outsiders, but the residents of the town were unhappy with the inconvenience they were subjected to.

“The fact is, very few Ayodhya wasi go to the temple, most devotees are outsiders. Ram hamare aaradhya hain (We worship Ram), but how will we survive if you take away our livelihoods? During the construction of Ram Path, locals were promised that they would be allotted shops. That did not happen,” he said.

SP’s winning candidate said, “So many people have been uprooted by the BJP government (during work on widening of roads leading to the temple). I will work to resettle them. I will also work to provide proper compensation to those whose lands have been taken away.”

Arif Siddiqui, who runs a small tent house, says there was a lot of anti-incumbency against Lallu Singh. “He did not do any work for the people of Ayodhya. Whatever work was done was for outsiders. The BJP forgot to work for Ayodhya’s own people. Also, Lallu Singh said the BJP needed 400 seats to change the Constitution. That made people very angry. Singh thought he was invincible, but he forgot that democracy works wonders,” he said.

SP spokesperson Pawan Pandey said, “The BJP cheated people in the name of Ram Mandir… These people do business in the name of Ram, and Lord Ram has punished them by removing them.”

Addressing party workers at the BJP’s election office in Ayodhya, Lallu Singh said, “I couldn’t uphold Ayodhya’s honour. There may have been some fault in me. I will introspect why this happened despite the Modi-Yogi leadership.”

A day before the results came out, Iqbal Ansari, the ex-litigant in the Babri Masjid demolition case, said Muslims in Ayodhya did not want the Masjid issue to be brought up “again and again”. Expressing the hope that the candidate would win, he said, “Yeh Ayodhya hai, yahan dharm hai, adharm nahi.”

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