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BJP to shift from caste to Ram temple in UP

Times News Network

Thursday 28 August 2003

NEW DELHI: Now that it is unshackled from the Bahujan Samaj Party, the BJP intends to mobilise its workers in Uttar Pradesh so that the political course shifts from caste to the Ram Temple issue.

BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday that the BJP would shift its attention from "caste-based politics" to "issue-based politics". Asked whether the Ram Temple was part of the party’s "issue-based politics", he said: "Yes, Ram is the embodiment of Indian culture...he is a unifying factor. Anyone who opposes him is communal."

Asked whether the BJP’s NDA partners agreed with the BJP’ line that all obstacles in the way of the construction of the Ram temple should be removed as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had reported the existence of a temple beneath the demolished Babri Masjid Naidu said: "There is no need to consult the NDA partners. It is a matter for the Hindu and Muslim communities to settle. In fact, it would be better if the political parties did not interfere."

Naidu added that that a court verdict on Ayodhya could end in embittering one community and so he urged Muslims to respect Hindu sentiments in the wake of the ASI’s findings and pave the way for the construction of the Ram temple "as a delay can only vitiate the atmosphere". He added that the temple should be regarded as "a symbol of national self-respect and honour, not just a victory for one community over the other".

From the ASI to the ISI, Naidu spelled out the BJP’s campaign line: The ISI, he stressed, would be the centrepiece of the BJP’s campaign in the coming assembly elections. Commenting on the Mumbai blasts, he said: "These will be an obstacle in the process of normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Unless Pakistan helps to disband the terrorist organisations operating from its soil, talks cannot be meaningful."

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