The Voter Dynamics in Ayodhya, a Bastion Key to Hindutva Politics

The voting figures show that there was a section of people who were disillusioned with the BJP, but their issues were not enough to sway the majority’s preferences.

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New Delhi: In spite of the issues on ground, it seems that a large number of voters have decided to opt for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Ayodhya, a bastion key to Hindutva politics. 

When The Wire’s correspondent visited Ayodhya, Ram temple construction did not seem to be a big poll plank on this seat. Instead, people talked about issues of healthcare, price rise and unemployment. Many traders in the old part of Ayodhya feared losing their livelihoods because of the road beautification project as part of the new temple city. Most of them belong to the Baniya community.

According to election experts, Ayodhya has one of the highest concentrations of Baniya voters, estimated to be around 70,000. The 379,633-strong electorate in the constituency also has a sizeable population of Yadavs, Muslims, Brahmins, and Dalits with close to 30,000, 55,000, 30,000 and 40,000 estimated voters, respectively. Population estimations also say the constituency has around 40,000 “upper caste” voters and around 45,000 non-Yadav OBC voters. 

Experts say that support from the Baniya community could have secured a win for the SP, however, the party appeared to have failed to get the trader community’s vote and the Baniyas decided to give the BJP another chance.

They further say that voters prefer emotional issues over real issues impacting their lives. 

In the past three decades, since the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the Samajwadi Party (SP) could secure a win on this seat only once, in 2012. This time too, SP’s Tej Narayan Pandey lost by a margin of about 20,000 votes to BJP’s Ved Prakash. However, this time’s margin was close as compared to 2017, when Prakash had won against Pandey with a margin of 50,440 votes.

This shows that there was a section of people who were disillusioned with the BJP, but clearly, their issues were not enough to sway the majority’s voting preferences.

Other contenders for this seat included Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Ravi Prakash (who secured 17,706 votes), Congress’s Reeta (2011 votes), Aam Aadmi Party’s Shubham Srivastava (490 votes).

In the Rudauli seat in Ayodhya district, Abbas Ali Zaidi, popularly known as Rushdi Miyan, fought on a BSP ticket after being denied a ticket from the SP. The party fielded Anand Sen, son of a former minister.

Rushdi Miyan seems to have eaten into the votes of the SP, as both candidates have secured around the same number of votes – in effect, helping the BJP secure a win.

In the Gosaiganj seat, SP’s Abhay Singh won by a margin of about 12,000 votes.

In Bikapur constituency, BJP’s Amit Singh won by a margin of about 7,000 votes. 

In the Milkipur seat, SP’s Awdhesh Pradash defeated BJP’s Baba Gorakhnath by a margin of about 7,000 votes.