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Top Hindu seer says will lay Ram temple foundation stone on 21 February

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Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati said it wouldn’t be a violation of court orders, but VHP has distanced itself from him ahead of its dharma sansad in Prayagraj.

Lucknow: Hours before Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders and seers are set to hold a two-day-long dharma sansad (religious council) on the Ram Mandir issue at Kumbh in Prayagraj, the clamour for construction of the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya has risen again.

The catalyst this time is Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth, who claimed that the foundation stone of the temple will be laid on 21 February.

“We are not violating any order of the courts. Until the [Allahabad] High Court’s order is quashed by the Supreme Court, it is still applicable,” Saraswati told news agency ANI.

“Wahan Ram Lalla virajman hain, wo janmabhoomi hai (The child Lord Ram is present there, that is the birthplace.”

However, the VHP has distanced itself and its event from Saraswati’s statements.

“What has been said by him is his personal opinion. We believe the foundation of the temple has already been laid, the issue is of construction,” said Sharad Sharma, VHP spokesperson.

Asked if Saraswati would be a part of the dharma sansad, VHP leaders maintained that he had not been invited.

Also read: Ram Mandir finds place in BJP leaders’ speeches, but not in political resolution

Controversies galore

Saraswati is known for his ‘bold’ statements on the Ram Mandir issue. Following a religious conclave in Varanasi last year, Saraswati had demanded that Parliament bring about constitutional amendments and declare the Ram Janmabhoomi issue as one of national importance.

He said after the constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court would “have to give a verdict within four weeks”, failing which “the interim stay order will automatically become ineffective”.

Around the same time, he had also hit out at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his remarks on Hindu god Hanuman, and called the BJP’s move to change the names of cities and revamp Ramlila grounds as “political gimmicks”.

He also maintained that a mosque did not exist on the disputed site, and what karsevaks had demolished on 6 December 1992 was a temple.

Centre’s plea

Saraswati’s statement comes a day after the BJP-led central government moved a plea in the Supreme Court seeking around 42 acres of the land on the disputed site. The Centre’s petition maintained that the “original owners” of that part of the site, which included the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyaas, had been demanding its return.

In the hours that followed this development, CM Adityanath welcomed the Centre’s move, maintaining that the step was necessary for “bringing harmony” in the country. Adityanath made this statement after his cabinet meeting at the Kumbh Tuesday.

On a visit to Kanpur and Lucknow Wednesday, BJP president Amit Shah also raked up the Ram Mandir issue. Addressing party workers in Lucknow, Shah said: “The BJP is committed to building a grand Ram Temple at the same spot on the Ram Janmabhoomi as soon as possible.”

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