Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today said it is "everyone's wish" that a Ram temple be constructed in Ayodhya, as he unveiled a seven-foot-tall statue of Lord Ram at a museum in the town, news agency PTI reported. In his first visit to Ayodhya after the general elections, Yogi Adityanath also offered prayers at a makeshift temple.
The statue, made of a single block of rosewood and purchased from Karnataka for Rs 35 lakh, is on display at the Ayodhya Shodh Sansthan, a government-funded museum established in 1986. It hosts works related to the Hindu epic Ramayana.
The UP Chief Minister also claimed, at event later in the day, that the original copy of the Constitution included a picture of Lord Ram, in an apparent reference to one of the illustrations in an early manuscript, PTI reported.
Yogi Adityanath also inspected the developmental works in Ayodhya during his visit, which comes a week ahead of a visit by Shiv Sena delegation, led by party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The BJP ally's visit is seen as an attempt to pressure the government to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site.
Ayodhya, where Lord Ram is said to have been born, is at the heart of a decades-old dispute involving the site where the 16th-century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists. The activists believed that it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram. In riots following the mosque demolition, 2,000 people died across the country.
The Supreme Court had referred the decades-old Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute for mediation and set up the panel, headed by former Supreme Court judge FM Kalifulla. The panel has been tasked by the court to hold consultations to explore a potential avenue for an amicable settlement. The mediation panel has been given time till August 15 by the Supreme Court to come up with a solution.
Last year, the Uttar Pradesh government announced a project to build a Ram statue on the banks of the Sarayu river, expected to measure 221 metres - topping even the famed freedom movement icon Sardar Patel's Statue of Unity in Gujarat.