AYODHYA: Oblivious to the presence of visitors around him, 48-year-old Rajnikant Sompura is patiently carving out a giant slab of stone with a hammer and chisel. Sompura is happy that the stone, brought all the way from Rajasthan, will be used in the “grand” Ram Temple which Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) wants to build at the nearby Ram janambhoomi site.

“I don’t know about legal or political issues but I am hopeful work on the proposed temple will start soon,” says Sompura, who gets Rs 400 for a day’s work. Hailing from Surendranagar in Gujarat, he has been working on the stone slabs ever since these arrived in Ayodhya in 2015.

After years, this temple town on the banks of Saryu is again rife with speculation, and hope, that Ram Temple is an idea whose time might come. Ayodhya will go to polls in the fifth phase on February 27 and the BJP is hoping to wrest the seat back from SP.

When TOI checks with chief of Ram Janambhoomi Nyas trust Nitya Gopal Das about the status of the temple, he proudly declares about 3/4th of stone carving has already taken place.

“I’m not an astrologer but I can say that under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, the work on Ram Temple will start soon. In fact, we might soon finally have a Hindu rashtra,” says Das, surrounded by CRPF security staff.

One of the reasons for this optimism is of course the constant utterances from leaders like Vinay Katiyar, Yogi Adityanath and Giriraj Singh affirming commitment to the temple. However, as Das says, Modi himself with his speech at Fatehpur, where the PM claimed Hindu-Muslim discrimination, had shown that he was not in favour of appeasing any community. “It augurs well for the country and our movement,” he says.

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