Ayodhya: The Ram-janambhoomi issue looms so large in this semi-urban Assembly constituency that locals maintain they vote for the BJP time and again though they are well-aware that development has taken a backseat over the years in the temple town.
The area around the Ramjanambhoomi is always bustling with people, from nearby towns as well as far flung areas, who come to Ayodhya for a darshan of Lord Ram. The heavy posse of police personnel and high security has become de rigueur for
the pilgrims, who patiently bear with the rigorous checks.
Amidst the regular hustle and bustle of this town which always seems to sport a festive look, the on-going elections seem to be just a speck with occasional discussions on the issue. Most feel it is the BJP which is going to win again.
"If the BJP loses even here then it would be a shame for the people," says Ramesh, a local youth.
Lallu Singh, the BJP candidate for this Assembly seat, has served five consecutive terms in the Vidhan Sabha since 1991 and is trying his luck again. People feel he may not have done much work, yet he is amiable and down-to-earth.
"Most MLAs hanker after gunners, security and a cavalcade of vehicles but not Lallu Singh," said a shopkeeper.
Giving an interesting twist to the contest here is eunuch, Gulshan Bindu, who is in the fray as an independent.
"He has been fielded by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to cut into my votes," Lallu Singh told a news agency.
Bindu, a graduate according to locals, may get the votes of those unhappy with lack of development work in the constituency and the significance given to the temple issue which is again a part of the BJP manifesto in these polls.
Lallu Singh, who won by a margin of only 5,741 votes in the last Assembly elections in 2007, is jittery about his prospects but insists he will sail through smoothly.
"Last time Sonia Gandhi had fielded Beni Prasad Verma against me but he could get only 4,000 votes. This time other than the Congress candidate, she has also fielded this eunuch to defeat me," Singh said.
Verma, who is now the union minister of Steel, is a prominent OBC leader from the Kurmi community which has a sizable presence here. He had managed to get only 4,798 votes.
While most agree that Bindu is not going to win and will only play the role of a spoiler, he is the talking point for many in the constituency.
"He will get a few thousand votes," said a sweets-shop owner in Hanumangarhi area.
Indra Pratap Tiwari (SP) was the runner-up in the last Assembly elections. Samajwadi Party has fielded Tej Narain Pandey as its candidate this time while Ved Prakash Gupta is in the fray from the BSP.
Lallu Singh insists that people would not vote for him every time merely because he is from the BJP and supports the construction of a grand Ram temple at the disputed site.
"My political opponents spread such canards about me. If development had not taken place, the people would not vote only in the name of the temple. I stand for all-round development of Ayodhya and this is on my agenda this time too," he said.