April 18, 2009 3:39:10 am
He is a familiar face in Ayodhya where they all call him Pappu Bhaiyya,Pappu Raja. All these years,even at the height of the Ram temple movement,Bimlendra Mohan Pratap Misra,scion of the erstwhile royal family of Ayodhya,stayed out of politics,busying himself in tennis and shooting till it wasnt illegal. But now this 48-year-old Brahmin royal is Mayawatis choice for the BSP Lok Sabha ticket from Faizabad and his candidature has sent local politics into a tailspin.
Misra is the first Brahmin to be fielded by a major party in recent times from this OBC-dominated constituency which since 1989 has returned either Vinay Katiyar of the BJP or Mitrasen Yadav who has represented parties as varied as the SP,BSP and CPI. Misra joined the party in February after sitting MP Mitrasen in 2004,he won the seat as a BSP nominee and is now in the fray as a SP candidate was denied renomination by Mayawati over his alleged involvement in a criminal case.
Pappu Raja whose friends also call him Ajatshatru because he has no enemies already has the backing of nonagenarian Muslim leader,Hashim Ansari,the plaintiff in the Babri Masjid title suit. After he filed his nomination,Ansari called on him saying Muslims are safe with him.
Rivals accuse him of VHP links,of supporting the temple movement. But Misra has a different take: During the movement in Ayodhya,I did help kar sevaks who suffered bullet wounds,got them medical aid. But that was purely on humanitarian grounds. I never occupied any VHP post.
The BJP used Ayodhya in the name of Ram. The temple movement left the city bleeding. Tourists stopped coming and temples became deserted. I wanted to do something for my city. I had no option except the BSP, Misra told The Indian Express.
A law graduate who never contested even a student union election,Misra has slipped into his new role swiftly, addressing rallies and sharing the dais with Mayawati. He is the latest face in Mayawatis social engineering experiment and BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya who maintains we have moved away from caste politics also says Faizabad may be an OBC-dominated area but polls are contested not by candidates but by the party and its president.
Faizabad will vote in Phase II on April 23 and it will be a multipolar contest Misra (BSP),Mitrasen (SP),Lallu Singh (BJP) and Nirmal Khatri (Congress).
BJPs Lallu Singh has represented the Ayodhya Assembly constituency for two decades now. Though the Ram temple is back on his partys agenda,it has not been as issue even here in elections in the last six years. The VHP workshop for carving temple stones has been lying idle since 2003. VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia are rarely seen except when they are here to attend the occasional meeting at the Karsevakpuram.
Mahant Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri,chief priest of the Saryu Kunj temple and convenor of Ayodhya Ki Awaaz which is a local movement for communal harmony,said: The BJP may be raking up the Ram temple issue again but now even the Sadhus are not impressed. When the BJP government was at the Centre,it promised to put Ayodhya on the global tourist map but nothing happened. Look at Ayodhya now. It has power and drinking water problems,bad train connections and hardly any employment opportunities for the local youth.
And this is where Pappu Bhaiyya thinks he can make a difference. But then he is up against veterans of many an Ayodhya battle. Not since the temple movement days has an election generated so much interest in Ayodhya-Faizabad.
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