GoldHun­tChangedthe Face of This Un­nao Seat

ASI ex­ca­va­tion did not yield any gold, but the lo­cals be­lieve it was due to dig­ging that Cen­tre ren­o­vated the temple and de­vel­oped the nearby ar­eas

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Daun­dia Khera (Un­nao): Daun­dia Khera in Un­nao dis­trict is a far cry from the non­de­script vil­lage that had shot to fame overnight when the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia started dig­ging for gold at the 180-year-old Setu Ramesh­war temple.

Nearly two and a half years later, the vil­lage stands trans­formed thanks to the na­tional at­ten­tion be­stowed by the gold rush, com­plete with ce­mented ghats, a morn­ing coach­ing cen­tre for school­child­ren, a fort­nightly dan­gal where wrestling matches are held and a monthly geet mela or song festival hosted by the lo­cals.

Part of Bhagwant Nagar assem­bly con­stituency in the dis­trict, which goes to the polls on Sun­day, Daun­dia Khera has much to thank the ex­ca­va­tion for.

The ASI had de­nied the ex­ca­va­tion was linked­toth­e­lo­cal­go­d­manSwamiShob­han Sarkar, who claimed that the 19th cen­tury lo­cal king Rao Ram Baksh Singh had ap­peared in his dream and told him that 1,000 tonnes of gold was ly­ing buried un­der the temple. The ex­ca­va­tion did not yield any gold ei­ther, but the lo­cals be­lieve it was due to the dig­ging that the Cen­tre im­me­di­ately or­dered com­plete ren­o­va­tion of the temple and the ar­eas nearby which were in ru­ins.

“Pehle ya­han ki dharti so rahi thi. Ab iske naksha­tra jaag gaye hain (the for­tune of this place has turned,” said Om Ku­mar Sharma, whose fam­ily has been tak­ing care of the ru­ins for gen­er­a­tions.

Lo­cals said a lot of work in this area hap­pened be­cause of leg­is­la­tor Kuldeep Sen­gar, who was part of SP till he joined the BJP last month and is con­test­ing an­other seat in Un­nao dis­trict this time.

“The Cen­tre re­leased ₹ 8 cr im­me­di­ately af­ter the ASI episode. That is how all this work hap­pened. This temple has ex­isted since aadikaal (an­cient times). There is no puja every day. But on Shivra­tri it will be Daun­dia Khera now has ce­mented ghats, a morn­ing coach­ing cen­tre for chil­dren, a fort­nightly dan­gal & more dress­ed­likead­ul­han(bride),”saidSharma.

He said there is a tu­ition cen­tre that op­er­ates in the morn­ings where a “cer­tain vice prin­ci­pal teaches English and math to poor chil­dren who come from nearby vil­lages”.

Peo­ple mostly come for the dan­gal and other fes­tiv­i­ties that are or­gan­ised often now, Sharma said. “Sona jab se nahin mila, tab se mandir par se aastha thodi kam ho gayi hai (Peo­ple don’t have that much faith in the temple ever since the gold wasn’t found),” he said.

The ASI ended up ex­ca­vat­ing only “stone fig­ure of lion, ter­ra­cotta are­canut shaped beads, two hearths and three burnt brick walls”. “But now we have ce­mented path­ways and a beautiful ghat. Still there is a prob­lem as it is not very safe at night,” said Jayaku­mar Pandey, who said he comes to the temple often to rest dur­ing af­ter­noons.

Some lo­cal res­i­dents, how­ever, al­leged that the gov­ern­ment found gold but did not dis­close it. “Pu­rana sona nagdhari hota hai . Aur itni khu­dai hui ki sona khisak gaya. (Old gold changes form. Also, the gold must have­move­d­i­nallthat­dig­ging).Thi­sisaShiv mandir and a co­bra vis­its here often. The snake might know. There is no way a di­vyadarshi (seer) like Swamiji can go wrong,” said Ma­hesh Pa­tel, a farmer in the vil­lage.

Na­tion­al­ism and loy­alty to vil­lage deities and icons is in the blood of the peo­ple here, said BJP can­di­date HN Dixit. Lo­cals be­lieve theirk­ingRaoRamBak­shSingh­washanged by the Bri­tish dur­ing the 1857 re­volt. A temple built on the site is revered by them till to­day.

The Sa­ma­jwadi Party had won four of the six seats in Un­nao dis­trict in 2012, but this time the BJP is bank­ing heav­ily on this Brah­min-Ba­nia dom­i­nated area.

“The fact that both Akhilesh (Ya­dav) and Rahul (Gandhi) have held ral­lies in this area will help con­sol­i­date sup­port for the al­liance,” said Ab­haya Ya­dav, who runs a tea shop in Bigha­pur.

BJP’s Dixit, on the other hand, said Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh has come vis­it­ing sev­eral times, in­di­cat­ing the im­por­tance the party is ac­cord­ing to the area.

The Congress has fielded Ankit Par­i­har from Bhagwant Nagar. Par­i­har, a Thakur, has built a hos­pi­tal and often has “pedachai” with them. The other five seats in the dis­trict have SP can­di­dates.

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