Ayodhya/New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) BJP leader Amit Shah's bid to revive the Ram temple issue ahead of the 2014 general elections invited a sharp rebuke from political parties Saturday even as party chief Rajnath Singh defended him saying he had just expressed his wish.
Visiting Ayodhya, Shah, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary and in charge of Uttar Pradesh, said that he hoped a grand temple dedicated to Lord Ram will be built there soon, signalling the direction the party's campaign will take in the 2014 polls.
"I came here to pray to Ram Lalla. I wish we will soon build a grand temple for Lord Ram here," Shah told reporters.
His comment drew strong reactions from the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, Left parties and BJP's former ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U).
Senior Congress leader and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the BJP leader was fooling the people.
"They have raised the issue many times.. Why didn't they do anything when they were in power? The issue is in the Supreme Court and they are not presenting on full facts to the people," he said.
"The BJP's nature is that of Ravan. If it frees itself of this, it will be able to see Lord Ram," Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said, claiming that the BJP "always remembers Lord Ram a year ahead of the polls and forgets him later."
The Samajwadi Party warned against "outsiders" trying to spoil the communal peace in Uttar Pradesh, where it is in power.
"There is an urgent need to keep a close eye on those who have come from outside to spoil communal brotherhood in the state before the Lok Sabha elections " SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said, in a reference to Shah who is a former Gujarat minister.
JD-U chief Sharad Yadav said when his party was a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), they were clear that the Ayodhya temple issue can be resolved only after the courts give a verdict or through talks between both the communities.
Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said BJP is "reviving" its Hindutva ideology and politics. "It is open now that RSS is dictating policies to the BJP. It is very clear. BJP is bound to revive its Hindutva politics," he said.
BJP chief Rajnath Singh however defended Shah.
"What I got to know is that he said he wished a grand Ram temple is built. I would say, any Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, every religious person wants their religious structures to be grand," Rajnath Singh told reporters in Nagpur, after meeting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.
"To express this wish is not wrong. Won't a Muslim want a grand mosque?" he told reporters.
He denied the party going back to it's "Hindutva agenda".
"What is Hindutva.. Supreme Court has defined it. It is not a religion, its a way of life," he said.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said Ram temple has always been on the party's agenda.
"It has always been BJP agenda, and it is not a political issue, it an issue of faith of whole India," she said.
"We are very clear that a temple should be built... should it be built after court order, or by a ordinance or legislation, or by a meeting of political parties, that is to be decided," she told TV channel Times Now.