Govt tries to avoid ‘core’ BJP issues

NEW DELHI (TIP): The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is attempting to play down contentious issues like Ram Mandir and beef ban while projecting development as its priority.

At a press conference on May 29 to talk about Modi government’s one year in office, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh too chose to avoid controversial topics. He described himself as “swayamsevak” of the RSS but did not give a direct reply on whether the Sangh fountainhead was interfering in governance.

The controversial “ghar wapsi” programme, campaign on love jihad and communal remarks by Union ministers and BJP MPs had put the government on the back foot in the recent past.

Singh was cautious on BJP’s eyebrow raising issues. “All issues are important. We have to decide on our priorities. Now, development is the priority. The Ram Mandir issue is subjudice. No talks as of now. If a solution comes, there will be nothing better. Otherwise, people of the two communities should can sit together and discuss,” he said.

He was responding to a question on whether the BJP has put Ram Mandir and revocation of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir on the back burner. BJP president Amit Shah had said that the party-led government could not decide on contentious matters like Ayodhya or Article 370 as it does not have the numbers.

A question on beef ban was also posed to him against the backdrop of controversial comment by Union Minister Mukthar Abbas Naqvi that beef-eaters should go to Pakistan. Singh’s junior minister Kiren Rijiju, who was also present at the conference, had also objected to Naqvi’s comments.

“Those who belong to India will stay in India only,” Singh rebuffed Naqvi.

Singh’s statement also echoed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s disapproval of Naqvi’s comments and Shah ruling out a countrywide ban on beef while leaving it to states to decide.

He also sought to downplay the Sangh affiliates’ joining a strike on September 2 called by opposition trade unions, saying these are autonomous outfits and it was not proper to link them to the party.

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