Development not Ram temple to be key poll issue: UP Dy CM

Lucknow: The BJP invariably raises the Ram temple issue before a general election but not so this time around as it’s “not an issue” as it would await the Supreme Court’s verdict. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be fought on the plank of development, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said.

“Ram temple is not an election issue for us because it is the issue of our faith which is bigger than any issue,” Sharma told IANS in an interview.

Sharma said the BJP, in its 2014 election manifesto had made it clear that it will follow the wishes of the different parties in the Ayodhya dispute or follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines.

He pointed out that many times, people had sat together to mediate on the dispute but “unfortunately it has failed in the past.

“And that is the reason why we are looking at the Supreme Court to give its verdict on the Ram temple issue,” the former Lucknow Mayor, who is also a professor, said.

Commenting on the SP-BSP-RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) alliance in the state, Sharma said: “These parties look different from the outside but they are the same from inside. Their only motive is to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from returning to power.

“They (SP-BSP and the Congress) have not announced their alliance publicly but are performing as alliance partners from the inside,” he maintained.

Sharma also accused Congress of acting as a “dummy” for the SP-BSP to cut into the BJP’s vote share.

The BJP and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 of the state’s 80 seats in 2014. The Congress had won two and the SP five.

Taking a jibe at recently-appointed Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s meeting with Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, Sharma said, “The Congress, by supporting caste parties like Bhim Army and others is trying to again breathe air into such parties which were curbed by Modi and (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) Yogi Adityanath.”

“It is the third election for Priyankaji. Earlier, she had campaigned in two Lok Sabha elections. If you look at her election campaign in 2014 you will find that she covered 46 seats and of these the Congress lost in 44 seats. At many places many of their candidates lost their deposit,” he noted.

Sharma said that due to the BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ mantra in 2014, and its policy to move away from caste or community politics, there had been no communal riot in the state in the last three years.

“The main issue for the BJP is development,” he said.

Asked if there was a Modi wave in the country, Sharma said: “There is an atmosphere for Modiji across the country.”

Hitting out at opposition parties for questioning the Indian Air Force strikes across the border in Pakistan, he said: “Few opposition parties are using such language which are making headlines in Pakistan,” he said, adding: “And by doing so, they question the strength and valour of our country and the security forces,” he said.

Urging the opposition parties to refrain from such comments, the BJP leader said: “I want to advise them that elections are meant to strengthen the democratic system and not to demean the pride and respect of the country. And the opposition should refrain from such utterances.”

The Deputy Chief Minister noted that elections for the Congress’ first family had now become more of a picnic.

On the Nehru-Gandhi family, the deputy chief minister said: “The family has a history of participating in elections. Now it seems that for them elections have been reduced to a picnic. They can be seen campaigning during elections, but after the elections are over they go on vacation to foreign countries,” he said.

On Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s prospects for contesting from south India, Sharma said: “It is his party’s matter. He can contest from anywhere, from the east or northeast or west India. It’s his party’s decision.”

“He is fearing (something) and I don’t have any cure for his fear,” he said.


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