Ram Mandir not an issue in UP polls: Rajnath

New Delhi: The BJP will not contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year on the Ram Mandir plank as it is not a political but cultural issue, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday.

“The Ram Mandir issue is not a political but cultural issue. The matter is also sub judice. We are not going to contest the Uttar Pradesh elections on this plank. We will contest on the development plank,” Rajnath Singh said during an interview with Times Now channel.

The minister said his party did not indulge in the politics of communal polarisation for votes and will not do so in the future either.

On the divisive and controversial statements made by certain party leaders over beef and ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ slogan, Singh said such statements should not be made.

“Whenever such statements came, we talked to the prime minister and gave a statement that such commentary should stop. People who make such controversial statements are also chastised. There cannot be any excuse for hate-mongering,” the minister said.

On the possibility of him becoming the BJP face in the Uttar Pradesh election campaign, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said there is “no dearth of BJP leaders” in the state.

“I will campaign for my party, will hold public meetings. But the party has plenty of leadership faces in the state,” he said.

Touching upon the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) controversy, the home minister said he still stands by his stand on the issue and justified police action in the case.

“Slogans like ‘Bharat ki barbadi hogi’ won’t be tolerated. This is not freedom of expression. The police are doing what they ought to,” he said.

Soon after the JNU controversy wherein some students and others allegedly raised anti-India slogans at an event on the campus on February 9, Singh had said that these were supported by Pakistan-based terrorist Hafiz Saeed.

His statement had drawn flak from the opposition.

On the changed stance of the prosecution and investigating agencies in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the 2006 Malegaon blast and 2007 Samjhauta Express blast, the minister denied any intervention by the Narendra Modi government.

On the Pathankot attack probe, Singh said it will be a “betrayal” on Pakistan’s part if it did not allow India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to visit the neighbouring country for further probe.

India had allowed a Pakistani investigating team to visit the Pathankot airbase.

Singh said the Congress is shrinking and had been swept away from the ‘plains of India and confined to the hills’.

He said the probe into the AgustaWestland chopper deal will be taken to its logical conclusion.