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Uma Bharti won't contest LS polls, will work for Ram Temple

December 04, 2018 22:59 IST

Union minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday said she won't contest the next Lok Sabha elections.

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader's announcement came days after her cabinet colleague Sushma Swaraj said she won't contest the next LS polls.

Bharti said she will instead concentrate on the issues of Ram temple in Ayodhya and cleanliness of the River Ganga for the next one-and-a half years.

Bharti said she would 'embark on a pilgrimage to devote time for Ganga river and Lord Ram by leaving power'.

The Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister, however, clarified that she was not quitting politics.


External Affairs Minister Swaraj, who represents Vidisha Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, had last month announced that she would not contest the 2019 polls due to health reasons.

When asked about Swaraj's announcement, the Jhansi MP said, "I am so sorry. I have said so (won't contest elections) one or two years ago. Sushmaji has said it now. Don't link both these things which are same, but the time and reasons are different."

Bharti announced that she would set out on a 2,500-km yatra (pilgrimage) along the Ganga river on foot from Makar Sankranti in January next year for nearly one-and-a-half years by 'leaving power'.

"I believe that one has to go to the banks of the Ganga river by leaving power and I am doing so for next one-and-a-half years. But I will be campaigning and would do politics till my last and that too with energy," Bharti told reporters at her official residence.

"I will not do anything for the next one-and-a-half years except (working) for the Ganga and Lord Ram," she said.

Bharti's statement came amid demands by the Sangh parivar to expedite construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

The saffron leader, who was a prominent face in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of 1990s, said she is not retiring from politics.

"I am not taking 'sanyas' (from politics). 'Sanyas' is a different thing. I will do politics till my end. Nobody can force me to leave politics. I will do it while being in the BJP only. But for one-and-a-half years, I need Ganga (river)," the Union minister said.

Bharti said a 'positive atmosphere" should be created for bringing an ordinance on the Ram temple construction at Ayodhya and blamed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for 'vitiating' the atmosphere.

The BJP leader, who rose to prominence during the Ram Janmbahoomi movement in the 90s, said the Ram temple issue should be discussed with all political parties.

"This (Ram temple) matter should be discussed with all political parties as court said that it (construction of the temple) is a matter of a dispute of land and not a dispute of faith," she said.

On demands by Hindutva bodies for an ordinance on the Ram temple construction, Bharti said, "A positive atmosphere has to be created for bringing in the ordinance, but (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi has created too much of a negative atmosphere."

"(Congress leader) Kapil Sibal had intervened in the (Supreme) Court and said the case (hearing of Ayodhya title suits) should not be heard (till 2019 elections are over)," she said.

Bharti said the Congress has to take an initiative to create an atmosphere for bringing such an ordinance.

"The government would initiate a dialogue on the (ordinance) issue, but whether the people of the country would accept it, welcome it.....Now it is the responsibility of the Congress to create this atmosphere because it had vitiated the atmosphere," she said.

Bharti said she would be leaving for the Himalayas and embarking on a pilgrimage along the Ganga river for the next one-and-a-half years by 'leaving power'.

"There is no need for any agitation on the Ganga (river) and the Ram temple (as) we have (Uttar Pradesh chief minister) Yogi Adityanath in the state and Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) at the Centre," she said.

Referring to the Allahabad high Court ruling, Bharti said, "In 2010, the three-judge-bench clarified that a dome situated in the middle (of other domes on the disputed site) belongs to Ram Lalla."

"On the day of that verdict, the agitation (the Ram temple movement) became successful. The verdict proved that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram. The only question remaining now is the construction of the temple," she said.

The three-judge bench had ordered that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among three parties: the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

As many as 14 appeals were filed against the HC ruling in the Supreme Court, which fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for January next year before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.

Bharti said she has been involved in work related to the Ganga river since 2011.

"In 2014, I was given the charge of Ganga Ministry. We have spent two years in preparing a plan because this ministry didn't exist earlier. In two years (after 2014), the plan became implementable with the help of the PMO and finance ministry," she said.

Bharti said the Ganga river is among the 10 most polluted rivers in the world, especially the stretch in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh which she said is 'very dirty'.

"We have established hybrid (water) treatment plants at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi and Mathura. By 2024, the Ganga river will become 'nirmal' (clean) and will flow smoothly," she said.


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