New Delhi: Keshav Prasad Maurya, the BJP's Uttar Pradesh president, had on Tuesday sent shockwaves when he promised a Ram Temple in Ayodhya should the BJP come to power. He did a complete u-turn today, saying his statements have been "misconstrued".
The temple issue, the 47-year-old leader told NDTV, is "a personal matter of faith" for him, but not an issue in this time's assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, which will vote in seven phases beginning next week.
The Election Commission has, citing a recent Supreme Court order, warned political parties to desist from seeking votes in the name of religion.
The "main issue in the election is of lawlessness, murders, rapes, loots and caste based politics" Mr Maurya said today, adding that if the BJP comes to power, "goons will rot in jail."
Keshav Prasad Maurya, who took over as the BJP's UP president in April last year, has an RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh background. He was also a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP, which led has led the demand for a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The RSS is the ideological mentor of both the BJP and the VHP.
The BJP has for many years now not included the Ayodhya temple as an election issue.
Mr Maurya is an Other Backward Caste or OBC leader and his appointment as state chief last year was seen as part of the party's strategy to woo that the BC vote bank in the state.
The BJP, which had won only 47 seats in the 2012 assembly elections, hopes to extend its performance in the 2104 national election in UP to this year's assembly election. The party had swept the state then winning 71 of UP's 80 seats.
Elections are being held in UP along with four others states - Punjab, Goa, Uttarkhand and Manipur - and votes will be counted in all them on March 11.