Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is not a common agenda for the NDA, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar indicated today, making it clear that he was on the same page with Lok Janashakti Party's Chirag Paswan on the issue. "We are committed to development in Bihar," Mr Kumar told reporters after the party's announcement about seat sharing in Delhi today. "We are of the opinion that the Ram Mandir matter should be solved through a court decision," he reiterated.
Last week, Chirag Paswan had told NDTV that Ram temple was an agenda of the BJP and not the NDA. He also said over-emphasis on the temple issue had dominated the "actual issues" that people face and garbled the BJP's message of development in the recent round of assembly elections, in which the BJP suffered a setback in the heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
After the press conference today, Chirag Paswan reiterated that in this election, development should remain the NDA's main agenda.
Ahead of the general elections, the temple issue has made repeated headlines, with various right wing organisations and a section of the BJP calling for fast-forwarding construction at the disputed site. Some have even called for an ordinance or an executive order to bypass the legal process. The Ayodhya title suit is currently pending in the Supreme Court, which is expected to say in January when it will begin hearing the case.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said one should not be in a hurry when a matter is pending in court. "But if people's aspirations keep increasing, the government will have to take a call on it (whether to bring ordinance or not). As of now, the party is not thinking of bringing in an ordinance on construction of temple," he was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India earlier this month.
Mr Kumar said the BJP will remain in power after the next year's elections. In Bihar, he said, the party will gain more 2014, reminding Amit Shah that in 2009, the two parties had together gained 32 seats. In 2014, when Nitish Kumar broke their years-long alliance, the BJP had won 31 seats. Mr Kumar had won just two. Still he has struck a deal for equal share with the BJP for next year's assembly elections, leading to ally Upendra Kushwaha quitting the coaltition.