Senior BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj has held out hope for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, this time mentioning a definite date. The foundation, he said, may be laid on December 6 - the day the Babri Masjid was demolished more than two decades ago. "Ayodha Ram mandir hearings are nearly over... 6th December is going to come. In my mind... I think from 6th December we will begin construction," said the 63-year-old - known for his controversial comments -- in Etah, Uttar Pradesh.
Sakshi Maharaj is one of the many temple enthusiasts in the BJP. Earlier this year after the BJP's huge victory in the Lok Sabha elections, "Mandir wahin banayenge (the temple will be built there) slogans were raised in parliament as he took oath.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had rebuked leaders who were speaking out of turn on the temple issue, calling them "bayan bahadur" and 'badbole log" (loudmouths).
"I urge you and request you with folded hands not to make such immature and unnecessary statements... The matter is in the topmost court of country. Have faith and let them carry out the process as they deem best," he said.
The venue of the speech - Maharashtra, where elections are due next month - led to speculation that his comments were directed at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who has repeatedly spoken of the Ram temple being built during the tenure of PM Modi.
The title suit of the six-decade-long temple-mosque dispute is being heard by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court after efforts to solve the issue through mediation failed.
The court is holding daily hearings, and has expressed the aim to wrap up the arguments by October 18.
Sakshi Maharaj is known for his controversial comments. This year, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, he had warned the people of Unnao, his constituency, that anyone not voting for him will "collect sins in return".
He also said no election would be required after the 2019, owing to the "Modi tsunami".