Ayodhya (UP): The chief priest of the Ram temple here on Monday said it is good that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is not contesting the Assembly polls from this seat as he would have faced a lot of opposition.
Acharya Satyendra Das said he had earlier suggested that Adityanath should contest from Gorakhpur as people whose houses and shops were demolished here due to infrastructure projects in the wake of the construction of the temple were opposing him.
"It's good that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is not contesting from here. I had suggested it earlier and advised that it will be better that he contest from any seat of Gorakhpur," said Das, who is the chief priest of the makeshift Ram Lalla temple, which is being replaced by a grand temple.
When asked why he suggested that Adityanath should not to contest from Ayodhya, Das said he advised this "after asking Ram Lalla (Lord Ram)".
The seers here have divided opinion and those whose houses and shops were demolished are against him, the 84-year-old priest said.
"All are saying that it's his work. This opposition is there. I said he better go there (Gorakhpur)," the priest said.
"He would have won from here but could have faced problems," he added.
There was a strong buzz in political circles that Adityanath would enter the fray from Ayodhya but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership decided to field him from the Gorakhpur (Urban) Assembly segment.
About the election mood in Ayodhya, Das said it is not yet clear as all parties have not declared their candidates.
The priest, however, said the ruling BJP will not let go the Ram temple issue and it will remain on their agenda.
"Earlier, there was Ram Lalla andolan, then came the court's order and the construction of the Ram temple started. This Ram temple issue will never go away. They will say firing was opened here (on 'kar sewaks'), application was moved in the court to prevent the construction…but the temple construction is on," Das said.
"They will certainly take the name (of Ram temple). This will not go away," he said.
Das hoped to see the completed Ram temple in his lifetime.
"Let's see how many days it takes for the construction to complete. A majority of those who were with me have gone (passed away)," Das said, adding that he will be serving here till his last.
Das said he joined as the priest of the makeshift Ram Lalla temple in 1992, the year the Babri mosque was demolished.
When asked if he was present when the mosque was demolished, Das said, "I was there. It happened before me. I was witness to it. Out of three domes, north and south domes were demolished by ‘kar sewaks’. I took Ram Lalla with its throne in my hand."
"The demolition was over by 5 pm. Later, ‘kar sewaks’ pitched a tent and levelled the place and by 7 pm, I kept Ram Lalla there."
When asked whether local politicians have started coming to him to take his blessings, Das said, "Till now, wife of Samajwadi Party leader Pawan Pandey has come to me. He is a strong candidate from the SP."
Pawan Pandey had won the 2012 Assembly elections from Ayodhya and was made a minister in the previous Akhilesh Yadav government.
In 2017, BJP's Ved Prakash Gupta won the Ayodhya seat.
All five Assembly seats in the district--Ayodhya, Bikapur, Rudauli, Gosaiganj and Milkipur—are held by the BJP now.
Ayodhya will go to the polls in the fifth phase on February 27.