The Bharatiya Janata Party will contest the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on its own, Union minister Mahesh Sharma said. “We will not have any alliance with any of the parties, be it the Lok Dal or any other party. No pre-poll, no post-poll alliance of any sort,” he said, adding that party leaders perceive the elections as a “special task that has to be accomplished”, PTI reported.

Sharma, who played a significant role in BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, emphasised that the party will not turn the Ayodhya Ram temple matter into a political issue. Instead, it will focus on development, good governance and driving out corruption from the state, the minister of culture, aviation and tourism added. “It [construction of the Ram temple] is not on our political agenda. But people of this country want a Ram temple at Ayodhya. We want to do it either by consensus mode or verdict by court of law,” he said.

The BJP has yet to decide on whether to campaign for the elections with a chief minister designate, Sharma said, adding that he was confident the party will win more than 265 of the 403 Assembly seats.