New Delhi: The BJP registered a fall in its victory margin in Ayodhya as results of the 2022 UP assembly elections — the first since the Supreme Court’s 2019 Ramjanmabhoomi verdict, which paved the way for the construction of the Ram Temple — were declared Thursday.
BJP’s Ved Prakash Gupta won the seat with nearly 113414 votes, beating Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Tej Narayan Pandey, who polled 93,424 votes.
Gupta, 74, was the oldest candidate, as well as the one with the highest net worth (Rs 5 crore). He had got 1,07,014 votes in the 2017 elections and defeated Tej Narayan Pandey by 50,440 votes. This time, that margin has come down to 19,990 votes.
Gupta has again defeated Pandey — another Brahmin who has a significant following in the community as well as traders of Ayodhya, and does not shy away from embracing his ‘Ram bhakt’ identity.
The road for Gupta was not smooth, as he has been accused of not being very visible in his constituency. Even some local BJP leaders told ThePrint during the campaign that Tej Narayan Pandey worked more on the ground than Gupta.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ravi Prakash got 17,706 votes.
Ayodhya’s increased importance since Ram Temple verdict
Ayodhya has remained the epicentre of Hindutva politics ever since the Ram Temple movement started in the 1980s. The constituency has gained more prominence since the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid verdict.
Ayodhya’s name had initially emerged as one of the possible constituencies from where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, currently an MLC (member of legislative council), could contest his first assembly election.
However, Yogi was reportedly advised to not contest from Ayodhya by the chief priest of the Ram Temple, who said that he would have faced opposition as people were divided over land acquisition to build the temple.
Ultimately, the CM decided to contest from his home turf Gorakhpur, where he registered a victory with a thumping majority.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)