Rajnath says temple not poll, political issue, agenda progress

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A day after endorsing party general secretary Amit Shah's views on construction of a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, BJP president Rajnath Singh Sunday said Hindutva "was never the political agenda" of the BJP and that "Ram temple would not be an electoral nor a political issue" for the party in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP would go into 2014 elections with the agenda of development and progress, Rajnath said.

He was in Amritsar to attend a meeting of the Punjab BJP executive committee. The two-day meeting began Sunday.

Responding to questions regarding Shah's comments in Ayodhya, Rajnath said, "The issue (construction of a temple) should not be politicised." It is a "national issue".

The BJP chief also invoked a Supreme Court "definition" to state that Hindutva was a way of life. "Religion cannot be made a political agenda," he added. "Hindutva cannot be limited to any caste, sect or religious boundary."

Rajnath also reiterated that as per his information, Shah had just expressed his "wish" for construction of a grand Ram temple at the site claimed to be his birthplace. He had not tried to make the issue a political or electoral one, the BJP chief said, adding a Hindu would obviously want a temple, a Muslim a mosque, a Christian a church and a Sikh a gurdwara.

Speaking in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, Shah however reiterated that the BJP would win the Lok Sabha elections with the agenda of Hindutva and its ideology of "rashtrawad (nationalism)". Addressing party workers, he said they should tell the masses that the BJP has not deviated from these ideologies.

Shah also told BJP workers to oppose the Samajwadi Party government's move to withdraw cases against terror accused.

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