Yogi Adityanath at the Ayodhya "Deepotsav" with the South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday visited the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site and several ancient temples in Ayodhya, besides inspecting a probable location near Saryu river for a planned statue of Lord Ram.
His visit to Ram Janmabhoomi site came a day after the three-day Deepotsav ended, in which Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook was the chief guest on the last day.
"He arrived in Ayodhya this morning around 8:30 am from Faizabad where he stayed at the Circuit House last night. First he visited Hanuman Garhi, and then the Ram Janmabhoomi, where he spent some time," Faizabad BJP president Awadhesh Pandey said.
Awadhesh Pandey said he accompanied the chief minister at a few of the temple visits, during which Yogi Adityanath also interacted with several religious leaders.
Security was steeped up at the Ram Janmabhoomi site, where a large number of people from across the country Wednesday visited on Diwali.
A police official said about 20,000 people visit the site on Diwali, almost double the footfall recorded on regular days, adding Yogi went in the morning.
Local residents said the chief minister had visited the birthplace of Lord Ram after last year's Deepotsav as well.
Yogi Adityanath's visit to the Ram Janambhomi site came at a time when the chorus has grown within the party and the Sangh Parivar, seeking construction of a temple there through ordinance.
At present, a statue of Ram Lalla (child avatar of Lord Ram) is kept at the site, which attracts devotees from far and wide.
The Supreme Court recently fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for the first week of January next year before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.
As many as 14 appeals have been filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement that suggested that the 2.77 acres of disputed land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
Mr Pandey said after visiting the Ramjanmabhoomi, Yogi Adityanath went to Kanak Bhawan temple and then to Sugriv Kila, located in the heart of Ayodhya. He then visited Maniram Das Ki Chavni and Digamber Akhada.
"Yogiji also inspected a site near Saryu river for a planned statue of Lord Ram there. He later went to Gorakhpur where he met children of a tribal village and attended a programme there," he said.
Mr Pandey said one of the probable sites is a patch of land between the Ram Ghat Halt and railway bridge on Saryu, which Yogi Adityanath inspected. Incidentally, Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay had recently said that plans are afoot to install a statue of Lord Ram on the banks of the Saryu river.
Yogi Adityanath's Wednesday visit comes a day after he announced that Faizabad district will now be renamed as Ayodhya.
Mr Pandey had Tuesday said that the option to resolve the Ayodhya dispute through community dialogue is "over" and the BJP will work towards construction of a Ram Temple in the sacred town through constitutional or legislative means.
The Faizabad BJP president also claimed that majority population of Ayodhya want to see the temple getting built as it is a "matter of faith" for them and "BJP is the only party that raises this issue for them".
Many experts have said that the Ayodhya land dispute matter should be taken up by the court after 2019 elections, as it might affect the voters.
The Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti, an umbrella body of Hindu seers, in New Delhi on Sunday had "directed" the Narendra Modi government to bring in a legislation or an ordinance to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya.