News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

Rediff.com  » News » Why BJP Lost Faizabad, Home To Ayodhya

Why BJP Lost Faizabad, Home To Ayodhya

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
June 05, 2024 17:56 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'The Constitution of India defeated the BJP.'

IMAGE: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, right, and SP candidate from the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency, Awadhesh Prasad, centre, during an election campaign rally in Ayodhya, May 15, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

Nothing was more shocking for the Bharatiya Janata Party than losing the elections from Ayodhya region in Uttar Pradesh.

A part of the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency, Ayodhya is where a grand Ram temple was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra D Modi at the site of the Babri Masjid in January 2022 following a Supreme Court order.

The BJP was banking on the Ram temple to expand its footprint and felt that after the temple became a reality UP would achieve a clean sweep winning 80 out of the state's 80 Lok Sabha seats.

When the results emerged on Tuesday, June 4, the BJP won only 33 seats in UP, shocking every political pundit who predicted at least 70 seats for the party from the state.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com spoke to senior journalist Suman Gupta who has been working in the Ayodhya-Faizabad region for three decades to know why UP turned its back on the BJP, especially the Ayodhya region.

How do you see the BJP's defeat in Faizabad, which includes Ayodhya?

It is outsiders who never thought the BJP would be defeated in Ayodhya, but insiders always knew the BJP will not win the seat this time.

There was an undercurrent against the BJP in the Awadh and Poorvanchal regions of Uttar Pradesh where the election became forward versus backward castes.

The Most Backward Castes and Dalits came together against the BJP this time.

Secondly, the problem for the BJP came with the beautification of Ayodhya. Many people in Ayodhya lost their land, homes and shops to the government diktat. They did not get proper compensation too and this caused resentment among voters.

How come nobody spoke about this?

Nobody spoke because of the fear factor. They were worried if they complained over their shop being demolished the authorities will come and demolish their homes too for no reason.

Residents also feared that if they speak they will have to face court cases. Police ya bhaiy (fear of the police) ensured the people did not speak out so nobody reported too about such incidents.

IMAGE: Special Security Force commandos on the streets of Ayodhya, January 20, 2024. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

On social media we see celebrities visiting Ayodhya. Didn't these events make Ayodhya residents feel good about their city?

VIP movement made life hell for the residents of Ayodhya. Blockades became the order of the day.

Earlier there was only one area called Ram Kot in Ayodhya where residents required a pass to enter. This was the order of the day after the Babri Masjid demolition.

Now, after the Ram Mandir has been constructed, you cannot enter with your car if you don't have government clearance and passes in place.

It was in Modi's term that the Ram Mandir was built. This was good enough reason to vote for the BJP, isn't it?

Happiness over the Ram Mandir is a different matter altogether and it does not mean that the construction of the Ram Mandir should start affecting your day to day life.

Any VIP who comes to Ayodhya ensures that life comes to a standstill for its residents for the next three hours due to security reasons. Governors, chief ministers and various dignitaries from different states keep coming to Ayodhya and the process is going on and on, thus disturbing the peace of life for the people of Ayodhya.

Ayodhya is a small place and the people stay in a six kilometre radius. They cannot handle this change overnight.

With the arrival of tourists are incomes not rising for the people of Ayodhya? For that matter the prices of their homes must have increased too.

There is no land left in Ayodhya today. Everything is sold out. Real estate speculators moved in fast after the Ayodhya court judgment and before any local resident could realise, the prices shot up.

As far as tourists are concerned you have to understand the difference between a shradhalu (devotee) and tourists.

Poor people who sit on tractors to come to Ayodhya for Lord Ram's darshan from neighbouring villages, they are ordinary people who have immense faith in Lord Ram. They cannot afford tourism. They spend as little as Rs 20 to reach Ayodhya from neighbouring districts.

Ayodhya was a poor man's pilgrimage centre but now they are changing that.

IMAGE: The Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at night. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

Was the BJP so unaware of the ground reality?

In UP voters went into silent mode. They never spoke of whom they are going to vote till the last day.

Dalits and Most Backward Castes had passed on messages in their families that no one must reveal whom they are going to vote in the elections. And if anyone asks, just say they are going to press the button for the BJP's lotus symbol.

There was fear in people's mind and the BJP thought that no one will speak against Lord Ram if they go to ask for votes.

Even local BJP leaders had no connect with the public. They have become irrelevant as it is the police and bureaucrats who run Uttar Pradesh.

Did Lallu Singh's candidate selection go wrong for the BJP in Faizabad?

No, he was the right candidate. He has been MLA seven to eight times. He was always associated with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and never made any communal remarks publicly against any community. He was a non-controversial candidate.

But still he lost.

The other candidate was more experienced. He has been a minister in the Samajwadi Party government and also an MLA many times. He was a Scheduled Caste and the Samajwadi Party still gave him a ticket from Faizabad though it is a general constituency seat.

Two factors worked for the Samajwadi Party. One is the undercurrent against the government and secondly, the ticket distribution in each seat of Uttar Pradesh.

In Faizabad, Awadhesh Prasad, the SP candidate, is a simple and very down to earth person. He is an MLA too. He comes from the Pasi community and a very non-controversial candidate.

Can we say the people of UP voted against the BJP because of fear?

Not fear, but anger.

What about the double engine sarkar and law and order improvement under the Yogi government?

This is only good for advertisements in newspapers. How will anyone know what is going wrong unless it is written in the media? Nobody complained so nobody wrote.

The BJP portrayed that they are very powerful and people have to go to them with folded hands if they have to get their work done.

In a democracy people don't like this as they want to be treated with dignity and as equals by their elected representatives. People know that the elected representative is sitting on the chair due to their vote and they don't want to go with folded hands to them.

IMAGE: This far and no further in Ayodhya. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com

It is said Yogi Aidtyanath did not have much say in ticket distribution in UP and it was Modi-Shah who decided the candidates.

All said and done tickets were distributed by the BJP. Yogi did not distribute any ticket separately.

The BJP repeated most of their MPs who had won earlier. Lallu Singh won Faizabad in 2014 and 2019. Therefore, he got the ticket.

You said earlier that the election was between the forward castes and backward castes. Can you throw some light on it?

This election was the public versus the BJP.

Take seats like Amethi, Barabanki, Faizabad, Basti, Ambedkar Nagar and Raebareli. You then have Sultanpur where Maneka Gandhi was defeated and so was Ram Mandir Nirman Samiti chairman Nripendra Misra's son Saket Misra who lost from Shrawasti. Nripendra was Prime Minister Modi's right hand man.

In Awadh and Poorvanchal the BJP did very badly because the Bahujan Samaj Party too contributed to their defeat. The BSP could not manage to get their vote share beyond 9 percent, which was an advantage to the Samajwadi Party and Congress.

Why was the BSP rejected?

The Constitution of India defeated the BJP. The voters knew the BSP cannot defeat the BJP so they voted for the INDIA bloc. The other two issues were inflation and unemployment.

The Constitution of India? Do you feel that poor Dalit voters in UP knew what Rahul Gandhi was saying, that the BJP would change the Constitution if they won 400 seats?

This was the first election when the Dalit community, who must have never read about the Constitution or never carried a copy of the Constitution of India, took a copy of this book in their hands.

They only understood that this Constitution is a book written by their leader, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, which gives them equality.

They understood that Dr Ambedkar wrote the Constitution to make them equal to the upper castes by giving reservations to them.

The BJP's slogan of '400 paar' backfired badly on them. Lallu Singh, the BJP candidate from Faizabad, said at one of his meetings that he must be elected because the BJP needs a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution. This video went viral only after which he said it was fake.

Does it mean Dalit voters defeated the BJP?

It was the Dalits, Most Backward Castes and Other Backward Castes who voted against the BJP in UP. Plus, youth voted against unemployment and women voted against inflation.

Modi-Yogi had made a bouquet of voters which included upper castes, non-jatav Dalits and non-Yadav OBCs. What happened to this vote bank?

This bouquet of flowers got scattered. It worked in 2014 and 2019 but not this time. They also got labharti (beneficiary) voters on their side to win. But this time all of them rejected the BJP.

We had Mandal 1 during V P Singh after which we saw Mandal 2 of the BJP in which they incorporated all other castes. Now we are seeing the beginning of Mandal 3 politics.

Modi told Dalits that INDIA would snatch their reservations and give it away to Muslims. Why did this not have any effect?

In UP polarisation did not work even as they tried their best. The reason being the Muslim community just kept quiet when such attacks were happening on them. They did not react.

Hindu voters too realised that such statements are made during elections and political parties cash in on their emotions in terms of votes.

The BJP brought in Aurangzeb, jiziya and all kind of things but communal polarisation did not work for them. They realised that they are losing ground so they did their best to polarise, but that did not work.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
Print this article
India Votes 2024

India Votes 2024

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news