LUCKNOW: A day after three truckloads of stones arrived in Ayodhya for the proposed construction of Ram temple, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the chief of Ramjanmabhoomi Nirman Nyas (temple trust), stirred the hornet’s nest by claiming that the construction of the proposed grand temple would begin before the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2019.

“With Modi government at the Centre and Yogi government in the state, the conditions are in favour of the construction of Ram Temple,” he said in Ayodhya, adding that the work on the temple should start before 2019 Lok Sabha elections respecting people’s wish and the ‘sankalp’ (resolve) made by the BJP in its manifesto. “The government must respect it,” he said.

On the pending title suit over the disputed land on which the temple is likely to be constructed in the Supreme Court, the Mahant, who is also a party in the case, expressed hope that the apex court would respect public opinion and popular sentiment while delivering the order.

Referring to the truckloads of stones reaching the temple town, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das said that the exercise would continue as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was procuring stones from Rajasthan. “Over one third (30 per cent) of the temple stones were cut and carved in Karsevakpuram and the remaining two-third (70 per cent) will be given required shape well before the 2019 elections,” said the Mahant.

On June 21, 2017, two trucks loaded with huge boulders had reached the temple town followed by three more such trucks on July 5, 2017, to be used in the construction of the proposed temple. Two years ago, amid reports of stones being brought to Ayodhya, the then Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh had stopped the transportation.

On the other hand, reacting to media reports about the stones reaching Karsewakpuram in Ayodhya, deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya congratulated those involved in cutting and carving but made it clear that any step towards temple construction would be taken only in accordance to the verdict of the Supreme Court. “However, it will be better if the issue can be resolved amicably through mutual consent as the apex court had also suggested,” he stated while talking to media persons.

On the contrary, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Thursday said it would move the Supreme Court over the stones reaching Ayodhya as the title suit of the land on which the temple was proposed was pending before the apex court which had directed all the parties involved to maintain status quo at the site.

Calling it a contempt of court, many Muslim leaders and clerics feel that the latest developments might vitiate atmosphere disturbing the communal harmony in the state. They unanimously wanted a ban on such business in the temple town. “The matter is subjudice and the VHP is gathering stones in Ayodhya for the construction of Ram Mandir. We will demand a ban on all these activities,” said Sayed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, senior member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. However, AIMPLB is not a party in the litigation, but the body claims to be the representative of Muslims in India.

Reacting to Mahant Nritya Gopal Das’s statement, senior advocate and Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor Zafaryab Jilani said, “Since the issue has always been a part of BJP manifesto and the party has always been cashing on it to garner votes, such statements from various quarters will keep coming till 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” he said. Jilani is representing Muslims in the title suit case in Supreme Court.