Though it is customary for a BJP chief minister from Uttar Pradesh to visit the Ram Janmabhoomi, the disputed site in Ayodhya, no BJP prime minister has ever visited and offered prayers at the make-shift Ram Lalla temple there. Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not visit Ayodhya as the prime minister. Nor has Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit it five years since he first took oath as the prime minister in 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed election rallies on the outskirts of Ayodhya, both in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But Modi did not visit the disputed site in Ayodhya.

Now, people in the know of things are saying that PM Modi will visit Ayodhya only after “the way for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya has been paved” through the Supreme Court verdict or by some other means.

The Supreme Court has set a deadline of October 17 to finish arguments in the Ayodhya title suit, which reached the court after a bunch of petitions were filed challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict in the matter.

The Supreme Court is expected to pronounce its judgment before November 17, the day when Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires. Speculation of a verdict in Ayodhya case before November 17 has gained currency from the fact that as per convention if a judge retires during the pendency of a case, the bench requires to be reconstituted and the matter is heard afresh.

There was pressure on PM Modi for paying a visit to the disputed site especially in the backdrop of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s visit to Ayodhya. Rahul and Priyanka had not visited the disputed site but they visited the Hanumangarhi temple, almost adjacent to the make-shift temple of Ram Lalla.

Five years ago, Modi had addressed another election rally. Back then, he visited Faizabad – the district was not yet renamed Ayodhya – but he had skipped visiting the disputed site in Ayodhya. On both occasions, speculation was rife that Modi would pay a visit to the make-shift temple of Ram Lalla.

It has been a surprise to many observers as to why PM Modi, the most popular BJP leader with strong Hindutva credentials, has not visited Ayodhya even though construction of Ram temple at the disputed site has been one of the core issues of the BJP.