Lucknow: Amid the ongoing Ayodhya temple row, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has sacked Samajwadi Party leader Ompal Nehra after his remarks asking Muslims to help build temples.
Nehra has been stripped off his minister of state status after his remarks asking Muslims to help build temples in Ayodhya and Mathura.
"Nehra has been sacked by the Chief Minister yesterday," SP spokesman and cabinet minister Rajendra Chowdhury told PTI today.
The action by Chief Minister, who is also the state president of ruling Samajwadi Party, came as the Ram temple issue came into renewed focus with two truck loads of stones for construction of the temple being brought to Ayodhya by Vishva Hindu Parishad.
Speaking at a function on December 23, Nehra had suggested that Muslims should come forward and help build temples at disputed sites in Ayodhya and Mathura, so that organisations like VHP lose their identity.
"Where can a Ram temple be built if not in Ayodhya? It is an emotional issue. In Mathura, where we worship Krishna, how can there be a mosque there. Muslims should think about it and in fact come forward for kar seva (voluntary work) and say build the temples at these places. We should not fall in their (VHP's)trap," Nehra had said in Bijnore.
Nehra was Advisor in Entertainment Tax department of the state government and had the status of minister of state.
After his sacking, Nehra said he stands by his statement.
"What I said was that Muslim brothers should do 'kar seva' in constructing temple in Ayodhya and Mathura and Hindu brothers help them in constructing mosques one or two kms aways. But it's my belief that temples should be constructed in both the places (Ayodhya and Mathura)," Nehra told reporters.
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai said such statements have no meaning as the matter was pending in Supreme Court.
"The matter is pending in the Supreme Court. How can construction work start in such situation? The statement has no meaning," he said.
Congress spokesman Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the action against Nehra was "right".
"His sacking is the right step as he spoke against the ideology of the Samajwadi Party. The matter is in court and action against those making statements is justified," she said.
The BJP and RSS are being accused by various political parties of trying to divide Uttar Pradesh on communal lines ahead of the 2017 Assembly Elections in the state.
(With PTI inputs)