Lucknow: Hindutva and development are synonymous and those opposed to Hindutva are "against the nation", Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath told reporters on Tuesday.
"Hindutva and development are the same thing; those who oppose Hindutva are against development; those who are against Hindutva are against the nation," he said before leaving for Ayodhya to kick off the BJP's campaign ahead of state-wide civic polls.
In the run-up to and the immediate aftermath of the 2014 general election, the frenzy around Narendra Modi was projected as an endorsement of the development agenda, papering over the contentious issues usually associated with the Sangh parivar's brand of Hindutva.
Adityanath has now put the issue in perspective, dovetailing Hindutva and development, probably on the assumption that it would make his ideology look less divisive. Nor did the chief minister make any bones about projecting Hindutva as a yardstick for measuring anti-national tendencies.
Adityanath was answering a question whether his decision to start the electioneering from Ayodhya reflected an attempt to polarise voters on religious lines.
"Those hostile to Hindutva are pulling the nation back," he replied, while acknowledging that an Ayodhya kick-off would help the party.
"If we start it from Ayodhya, the battle is over," he said. "It's a holy city for us. Nothing can be done without the blessings of Ram, who was born there."
Adityanath praised those striving for an out-of-court-settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, pending in the Supreme Court.
Waseem Rizvi, chairman of the state Shia Central Waqf Board, had met Akhara Parishad head Narendra Giri and some other sadhus in Ayodhya on Monday.
"We favour a Ram temple in Ayodhya. A mosque can be built outside Faizabad (the district Ayodhya is located in), but it shouldn't be called the 'Babri Masjid'," he told reporters.
He said the proposal would be submitted to the Supreme Court before December 5.
Rizvi has been trying to curry favour with the BJP since the Adityanath government ordered a probe three months ago into allegations of his involvement in the illegal sale of the board's properties.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a spiritual speaker, is expected to be in Ayodhya for similar "mediation" on November 16.
Allahabad High Court had in 2010 divided the disputed plot in Ayodhya equally between the Nirmohi Akhara, Sunni Central Waqf Board and Ram Lalla Virajman (infant Ram), represented by VHP leader Triloki Nath Pandey.
All three parties have appealed in the apex court, seeking possession of the entire plot. Nearly a dozen other Hindu and Muslim plaintiffs have joined in as plaintiffs but the Shia board and Ravi Shankar are not among them.
Adityanath told a rally in Ayodhya on Tuesday that the central and state governments were committed to giving a house to every family, but this would be possible only if the BJP won the civic elections.
He reminded the voters how he had ensured 24x7 electricity in Ayodhya after some local monks complained of power cuts.
"Some people hate the name of Ayodhya. Previous governments led by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party failed to give due respect to the city. You must not pardon them; you must vote only for the BJP," he said.