NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah on Friday steered clear of the Ayodhya temple chorus springing from Sangh Parivar associates ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, saying the party will seek votes on the agenda of development.
His remarks counterbalanced a growing push by the Hindu right-wing, including the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, to build a Ram temple on a disputed land. “The Bajrang Dal is not BJP,” he said. “You should only listen to the government.”
Shah referred to the BJP’s 2014 manifesto to underline the party’s stand on two tricky topics — the Ram temple and abrogation of Article 370, a constitutional provision that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The document says the party will explore “all possibilities within the framework of the Constitution”.
He sought to keep the Bajrang Dal at arm’s length after its controversial video on self-defence that shows terrorists in skull caps and robes. The ruling Samajwadi Party, considered the BJP’s main competitor in UP, accused the party of using the Bajrang Dal to cleave the electorate on religious lines.
In addition to Sangh Parivar affiliates, its own parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy recently pushed for the Ayodhya shrine. VHP, which earlier put a moratorium on the issue, has changed its position and is collecting stones for the temple. But Shah focused on Narendra Modi government’s two years of “decisive and corruptionfree” governance. He also ignited speculation over a cabinet reshuffle with remarks that the government will fill vacancies in the ministry but is yet to pick a date.
“We will do it. A date has not been decided yet,” Shah said, responding to a query on former Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s successor. Sonowal has taken over as Assam chief minister.