‘Why Temples? Build School & Hospitals,’ Says NDA Ally Kushwaha
Expected to severe his ties with the NDA government, Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday, 6 December, said that governments or political parties should not build temples, but undertake developmental projects like schools or hospitals.
The remark by Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader comes on the heels of speculation of a formal announcement of his exit from the NDA government, NDTV reported.
Kushwaha added that while he favours construction of a temple, he wants the construction to be carried out in a legal manner by abiding the Constitution.
"I'm also in favour of temple construction. But do it in a legal manner. After all, the country runs by Constitution and the Constitution has clearly defined secularism," he said at a meeting in Motihari.
Kushwaha is also likely to put in his papers as Union minister, a senior party leader said on the condition of anonymity.
Kushwaha is also expected to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi on 10 December, just a day before the results of the assembly elections in the five states, reported News18.
Kushwaha, who is the minister of state for HRD in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre, addressed a rally at Motihari on Thursday.
The party leader said the RLSP's tough stance made it amply clear that "our association with the NDA, which means the BJP and Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, is over for all practical purposes".
After the BJP and the JD(U) offered the RLSP just two seats of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, Kushwaha had been publicly airing his disappointment with the saffron party. He had said that the number of seats the party was offered was not respectable and asked the BJP to do a rethink by 30 November.
Criticism Against the BJP
In a strongly-worded resolution, the RLSP expressed grave concern over many objectionable and unnecessary decisions taken by the BJP and the central government in the recent past.
"We are not opposed to construction of mosques and temples. But this is not the function of political parties and their meddling in such matters causes tension in the society and diverts the attention of the public from real issues," it said.
Raking up the issue of temple construction at Ayodhya ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the resolution said it "gives rise to the suspicion that the largest party in the coalition ruling the Centre, and some of its leaders, are deliberately trying to make the people forget about poverty, illiteracy and unemployment and get swayed by emotive issues. The party strongly condemns this attitude".
In the strongest criticism so far of the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, the party said the chief minister's silence over scams during his rule give rise to the suspicion of his involvement in them and charged him with having capitulated before communal forces.
"Collapse of law and order has forced the people of the state to live in fear. The state government revels in its own gimmicks coming up with fanciful ideas like a five-year agriculture road map while turning a blind eye towards the problems faced by the peasantry.
"The party (RLSP) takes the pledge to dislodge this government from power in the state, deeming it necessary to usher in peace and prosperity, the resolution added.
RSLP, BJP Alliance Began in 2014
The RLSP had entered into an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in 2014 and had won three Lok Sabha seats from Bihar for 2014 general election namely Sitamarhi, Karakat and Jahanabad.
The party's future course of action was not clear even though the grand alliance constituents RJD, Congress and HAM have been wooing Kushwaha for long.
The Union minister has also been in talks with former JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav who has formed his own party. There is speculation that two small parties are toying with the idea of a merger.
However, a spectre of a split also looms large on the RLSP with both its MLAs and lone MLC, besides one of its MPs, are said to be in touch with Kumar and keen on remaining in the NDA in the event of Kushwaha severing ties with it.
(With inputs from PTI)