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Opposition parties silent on Ayodhya land scam: Professor

A Rajya Sabha member alleged that a land was bought for Rs 2cr on May 18, 2021, and sold to Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust the same day for Rs 18.50cr
Narendra Modi.
Narendra Modi.
File photo

Piyush Srivastava   |   Ayodhya   |   Published 27.02.22, 01:18 AM

Many in Ayodhya are unhappy that the Opposition has not raised during their election campaign the alleged land scam in the construction of the Ram temple.

“Crores of rupees meant for the construction of the temple were embezzled by ruling party members. Common people had donated money. But both Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav and his candidate in Ayodhya, Tej Narayan Pandey, have been silent on the scam. It seems they have buckled under the pressure created by the majoritarian politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath,” said Anil Kumar Singh, a professor of Hindi at Saket Degree College, Ayodhya.

“Those involved in the scam are a section of Brahmins owing allegiance to the BJP. The Samajwadi candidate belongs to the same caste. Pandey had spoken about the scam last year but he is tight-lipped now during the election campaign. It could be that he is under pressure from his caste-men,” Singh added.

Officially, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress said they had already told the people about the issue earlier. Sources in the parties, however, said the Opposition was worried about antagonising the Hindus in an already polarised atmosphere.

Pandey said: “The people are aware of the land scam and are fighting against the BJP.”

The Congress candidate, Rita Maurya, said: “Our leaders have already raised this issue. The people will punish the BJP.”

Sanjay Singh, a Rajya Sabha member of the Aam Aadmi Party, had first alleged a scam in July last year and submitted a complaint with Kotwali police in Ayodhya. Other leaders, including Akhilesh and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, had addressed news conferences at that time.

Sanjay Singh had alleged that a piece of land was bought for Rs 2 crore on May 18, 2021, and sold to the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust the same day for Rs 18.50 crore. The trust is monitoring the construction of the Ram temple.

Another plot that belonged to the government was allegedly bought illegally by Deep Narayan, nephew of Ayodhya mayor and BJP leader Rishikesh Upadhyaya for Rs 20 lakh on February 22 last year and sold to the trust on May 21 for Rs 2.50 crore.

The AAP leader had named Upadhyaya, trustee Anil Mishra, sub-registrar (land) S.B. Singh and six others in the alleged scam.

Swami Prabodhanand Giri, a Mahamandaleshwar of Haridwar, had submitted an application against the AAP MP with the same police station, alleging that the politician was campaigning against the temple.

No FIR was registered However, Adityanath had said last month that an inquiry had been ordered into the land deals.

Triyug Narayan Tiwari, a veteran journalist in Ayodhya, said: “In the 2017 Assembly elections, Brahmins used to close their doors on the face of Tej Narayan, who was MLA at that time and seeking re-election. He was defeated by the BJP’s Ved Prakash Gupta. This time, the Brahmins are not happy with Adityanath, a Thakur sadhu who is considered anti-Brahmin. They are not only welcoming the SP candidate in Ayodhya but also offering him tea.”

Tiwari said it was because of this dynamics that the BJP had deployed Ravi Kishan, actor and BJP MP from adjoining Gorakhpur.

“The voters didn’t know that he is a Brahmin till pamphlets bearing his full name — Ravi Kishan Shukla — were distributed here on Friday. He is meeting Brahmin voters door-to-door and seeking votes for Gupta,” Tiwari said.

“However, BJP workers are unhappy with Gupta, who doesn’t have a clean image. This could be the reason why the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh has got activated. The RSS office in the city has been open round the clock for the past three days,” the journalist said.

Basant Das, a sadhu in the temple town, said: “Maybe saying anything about the land scam would be taken by voters as a statement against the Ram temple and the Hindus, which would polarise the majority community.”             

The BJP has won the seat five times since 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished. The SP has won only once.

Akhilesh took out a 10km road show on Friday from Ram Ki Paudi to the Civil Lines in Ayodhya. He gave speeches at several places but didn’t mention the alleged land scam. He also didn’t raise the farmers’ protest.

A source in the BJP said Adityanath met dozens of sadhus on Friday during a visit to Ayodhya.

‘‘The chief minister offered them food, touched their feet and gave them daan-dakshina (donations). This was an outreach meant to get the support of the sadhus for the BJP. The majority of the sadhus in Ayodhya were ignored after the Supreme Court verdict in favour of the Hindu side in the Ram temple-Babri Masjid case. They had also wanted land to expand their ashrams but their requests had been turned down,’’ the source said.

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