Construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya “is not an election issue at all. It is a national issue, a religious issue. It is a matter of Indian pride. Nobody should have any objection to it,” BJP president Rajnath Singh said at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela here on Wednesday.

“The BJP has been committed to these agendas for very long. The culture and the Hindu religion that we all believe in, it is our deep desire that a temple should be constructed at the Ram janmabhoomi.”

Mr. Singh said his presence at the mela — he took a dip in the river at the Sangam — and at a meeting of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal (core committee) on the sidelines of the event should not be viewed politically.

At the meeting, held at a camp in Sector 6 attended by more than 200 prominent Hindu priests, the VHP passed a resolution to organise a nationwide, month-long awareness campaign, beginning April 11, on the Ram temple issue, its Kashi Prant president Manoj Srivastava said.Talking to journalists, VHP president Ashok Singhal said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi enjoyed the same popularity as Jawaharlal Nehru in the post-independence period.

Nehru and Modi

“It is for the first time since the days of Nehru that a leader has come to enjoy such a massive popularity across the country.”

On projecting Mr. Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Singhal said the VHP was committed to helping Hindus achieve their due. “We will not violate peace by engaging ourselves in politics. Our sole concern is welfare of the Hindu community.”

On Tuesday, senior VHP leader Praveen Togadia also parried this topic, saying it was a question “Rajnath Singh would like to answer.”

The VHP’s Dharm Sansad at the Kumbh Mela is scheduled for Thursday.

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