Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who months ago criticized the BJP for not delivering on its promise of building a Ram temple at Ayodhya, did a U-turn on Monday. Amid the daily hearings of the Ayodhya title suit in the Supreme Court by a constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Mr Thackeray said the government will take steps to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya soon since "there was no point in waiting any more".
"We have instructed the Shiv Sena cadre to be prepared to lay the foundation stone for the Ram temple at Ayodhya. This is an issue which has been existent since our founder Balasaheb Thackeray's days," Mr Thackeray was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"The way government is working, our hopes have increased as to the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Now, there is no point in waiting anymore," the Sena chief added while speaking at a function in the city.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Mr Thackeray had repeatedly baited the BJP over the temple construction. His party had alleged that the BJP's reluctance to bring in an ordinance or executive order to build a Ram temple indicated that it was not keen on it.
"This issue comes up only during the elections and once elections are over, it is forgotten," he had said in November. He had even held a rally in Ayodhya to push the temple demand.
But since the Lok Sabha elections, he has expressed hope more than once that the temple will be built during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.
"We have been hearing that the issue is in the final stages," he said again on Monday.
"I would urge the government to take a bold step to lay out a path for the construction of Ram temple, just like the way the government acted on Article 370 recently," he said, citing the Centre's sweeping move last month to end the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir.