BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj , who is no stranger to controversies, said on Sunday that the Ram Mandir will be built in Ayodhya during the NDA government's tenure.
“There should be no doubts on the BJP's intentions. If the Ram Mandir is not built during the BJP’s rule, will it be built under Congress rule or under (Samajwadi Party leader) Mulayam Singh (Yadav) or (BSP chief) Mayawati? It is certain that the Ram Mandir will be built during our rule,” he told reporters at Unnao.
“If the temple is not built today, it will be built tomorrow; if not tomorrow, then the day after. We (BJP) have been in power for just one year and we still have four more years,” he added
He described the proposed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya as “a spiritual centre for Hindus around the world” and said it was “not the agenda of the BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party or Bahujan Samajwadi Party”.
Last month, he had said that “Ramlalla” will remain in Ayodhya and no one will be “allowed to keep a single stone in the name” of the Babri mosque.
Maharaj, the MP from Unnao, has triggered controversies in the past with his remarks on sensitive issues.
Earlier this year, he was widely criticised for describing Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "patriot" and had to apologise in parliament for the comment. He sparked another row by asking Hindu women to have at least four children to ensure that the community remained a majority.
Recently, he triggered a controversy by saying Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was "mad".
The BJP has distanced itself from Maharaj’s remarks and asked its workers and representatives to refrain from making such comments.
Maharaj's remarks on Sunday came in the wake of an assertion top VHP leader Surendra Jain that the NDA government had come to power to deliver on a “core” agenda that includes building a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
"The mandate which the BJP got in the last general election was not merely for development. People expect that they will address the core issues too," Jain said.
The government should be prepared to "face the consequences" if it does not deliver on the core issues. "People want their aspirations (of building the Ram temple) fulfilled. The Vajpayee government failed to fulfill this aspiration and was voted out. The BJP will not like to repeat the mistake," he said.
The VHP, which has constituted a panel of senior sants for negotiations to "find a way forward" for constructing the temple, is confident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will resolve the issue.
The Congress criticised Maharaj for his remarks, with senior leader PC Chacko demanding that the Prime Minister should clarify whether he endorsed the BJP MP's views.
"What is the agenda of the government is what we are interested in, whether the government is serious about development or are they just interested in RSS' communal agenda. This is something the PM should clarify,” he said.
Senior Congress leader P L Punia, the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, said the Ram temple is just a "political issue" that the BJP flags for electoral benefits.
"In reality, they were never interested in it. If the Ram temple is built, they will lose an electoral plank," he said.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said, "What the RSS says, Sakshi Maharaj says too. They are communal people...they are communalising the society.