Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday evening sacked minister Ompal Nehra after his controversial remark that Muslims should give up their claims of mosques in Ayodhya and Mathura and that they should help in building the Ram temple there.
Nehra, who is believed to be close to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, had on Wednesday suggested during a function that Muslims should come forward and help build temples.
“Where can a Ram temple be built if not at Ayodhya? Muslims should help in building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and a Krishna temple in Mathura and give up their claim on mosques there. In fact I would say that Muslims should join Kar Seva (volunteer) for the Ram temple,” NDTV quoted Nehra as saying.
On Friday morning Ompal clarified he had only said that Muslims should come together and find a solution to the Ram Mandir issue.
Nehra told ANI that he had been misquoted. He claimed he had said that since the Bharatiya Janata Party has “no issue” pending in Uttar Pradesh besides the Ram temple, the matter should be “closed once and for all”.
“I said that since BJP doesn’t have any issue in UP except Ram Mandir, then issue should be closed once and for all. I said that secular leadership & Muslim intellectuals should come together and find a solution to this,” Ompal Nehra was quoted as saying by ANI when he was asked about his ministerial stature being stripped off.
I was informed by the DM about this last evening: UP Minister Ompal Nehra on his ministerial stature stripped off pic.twitter.com/LgBfk8ImeI— ANI (@ANI_news) December 25, 2015
The minister was apparently referring to a controversy over the Vishwa Hindu Parishad gathering truckloads of stones for a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the 16th century Babri mosque was razed by Hindu activists on December 6, 1992.
The arrival of a fresh load of stones from Bharatpur swung the spotlight onto the temple controversy even in Parliament. On Wednesday, the issue rocked the Rajya Sabha, with political opponents of the NDA government alleging that it was intended to stir communal passion ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections.