Barely a couple of weeks before he turns 41, Rishikesh Upadhayay virtually got the perfect birthday gift from the voters of Ayodhya and Faizabad, who elected him as the first mayor of the temple town situated around 120 km from the state capital Lucknow.
Upadhyay's victory also assumes significance, as it was from Ayodhya that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath kicked off his hectic blitzkrieg for the UP urban local body elections.
The close contest for the Ayodhya mayor's post saw Upadhyay defeating SP's Gulshan Bindu by 3,601 votes.
Upadhyay got 44,642 votes (44.9 per cent), while Bindu was close with 41,041 votes. BSP's Girish Chandra got 6,033 votes, while Shailendra Mani of the Congress polled 3,601 votes. AAP's candidate Sarvesh Kumar Verma got 1,180 votes.
The Adityanath government had decided to constitute municipal corporations for Ayodhya and Mathura-Vrindavan during its initial days in power.
Ayodhya went to polls on November 22 in the first phase of the civic polls and saw a poll percentage of 49.98, while the Faizabad district saw a 54.08 per cent turnout.
"My primary aim will be to fulfil the aspirations and expectations of the people of Ayodhya. The only issue which comes to my mind at this point of time is all-round development of Ayodhya," Upadhyay told PTI here.
"My priority will be to increase greenery in Ayodhya, make it clean and hygienic and ensure its all-round development. Every word mentioned in the Sankalp Patra (manifesto) will be implemented in letter and spirit," a jubilant Upadhyay, who turns 41 on December 14, said.
The credit for the win goes to the voters, the seers (who blessed me) and party leadership for reposing their faith and trust in me, he said.
The newly elected mayor of Ayodhya accused the previous Samajwadi Party government in the state of hampering development work.