As the election year draws closer, religious politics has gained ascendency in Uttar Pradesh. Amid the never-ending talk and statements on the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has said, if voted to power, he will build a huge temple honouring Lord Vishnu in addition to the setting up of a city named Vishnu Nagar near his home turf, Etawah. The temple will be on the pattern of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Earlier, Akhilesh had installed a 60-foot-high statue of Lord Krishna in Etawah. The statue is still to be unveiled and is expected to take place sometime before the 2019 Lok Sabha Election.

Akhilesh revealed his plans regarding Vishnu Nagar on Wednesday during an interaction with the media. He said the Vishnu Nagar as envisaged by him will come up on a 2000 acre land near the Etawah Lion Safari. It will have residential colonies.

The high point will be the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple will be on the pattern of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, rated to be one of the largest religious complexes in the world, and spread over an area of 402 acres. Built as a Hindu temple it was dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the early 12 century.

The SP president said there will be no paucity of land as there was enough in the Chambal region. He said a team of experts will be dispatched by him to Cambodia to plan the city and the temple which will finally emerge as a centre of culture and knowledge of the country’s ancient civilization.

Akhilesh’s move and announcement of a temple is not without political overtones, coming as it did close on the heels of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s recent observation on the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Maurya had said the Centre may take recourse to the legislative route and that a bill may be introduced in Parliament if the BJP government gets a majority in the Rajya Sabha too.

By promising a city named after Lord Vishnu the former chief minister has sought to take on the BJP on its own turf. Lord Ram is looked upon as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

By promising a city named after Lord Vishnu, the SP chief has sought to address the same vote bank but through a different route. It is also being seen as a move to keep his Yadav vote bank intact. The Yadavs claim to be Yaduvanshis and the descendants of Lord Krishna, who is again seen as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The former chief minister who will kickstart his Lok Sabha campaign in the middle of September by undertaking a 50 kilometre long cycle yatra is expected to play the Lord Vishnu and Krishna card to the hilt. This will be in addition to the socialistic platform of the Samajwadi Party.