The Ram temple issue is not a poll plank but a matter of faith and should not be connected to upcoming UP elections, BJP leaders said today, a day after party leader Vinay Katiyar's remarks that only "lollipops" were being offered in the name of the temple raised eyebrows.
BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy went to the extent of assuring Katiyar that the Ram temple at Ayodhya will come up in 2017 and the museum, land for which is being taken now, will only come up later by 2019.
"Ram mandir will be constructed. As per our tradition, the temple is not constructed alone and such museums will also come up around it. Only land for the museum is being taken and it will come up later only by 2019. The Ram temple will come up before and that is why Katiyar should be rest assured," Swamy said.
He also claimed that the attempt is that Ram Mandir should come up by 2017 as it is a promise made by BJP in the 2014 manifesto. "It is not statement of faith. We have to keep our promise even if delayed," he said.
Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Uma Bharti said that Ram temple is not a political issue but a matter of faith for them.
"Ram Mandir is not a political issue, it is a matter of faith...First you ask whether Ram Mandir is not on the agenda, then you will make headlines that Ram Mandir is not an issue and BJP has abandoned it. If we don't say, you say BJP has abandoned the Ram mandir.
"If reaction is given then you say whether Ram Mandir is the only issue. Ram Mandir is a matter of faith. We need to move forward on the issue on the basis of discussion or on the basis of court's order. Some people are trying to divert attention," Naidu said.
Bharti said that there is talk that BJP is raising the Ram Mandir issue as there are polls in Uttar Pradesh but it not so.
"Ram issue is not a poll issue. It is about faith. It is a question of life and death. We are ready to even give our life for Ram Temple," she said, adding that the issue in UP polls is corruption and lawlessness.
RSS sympathiser Rakesh Sinha said there is no relation between Ram temple and the museum, which is to beautify Ayodhya.
"Ram temple issue is that of faith and dignity and there should be no controversy over Ayodhya's beautification and Ram temple," he said.
Naidu also blamed the media and said Ram Temple talk is a their creation and BJP will fight elections on the issue of development and good governance.
He said people raise issues and then ask for the opinion of the leaders and then start commenting. The Minister asked what was wrong in having the Museum of Ramayana.
The Union Minister also questioned whether people hail Ravana on Dussehra, supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying "Jai Shri Ram" during his address on the day in Lucknow.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)