Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday said no structure other than a Ram temple will be built at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, The Indian Express reported.

He told a congregation of 2,000 Hindu saints, mutt heads and leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Karnataka’s Udipi city on Friday that he feels “victory is at hand”.

“We will construct it,” Bhagwat was quoted as saying by The Times of India. “It is not a populist declaration but a matter of our faith. It will not change.”

The Sangh chief’s comments come days before the Supreme Court is expected to hear 13 petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict on December 5. The High Court had ruled that the land should be divided equally among the three parties in the case. “The moment of it becoming a reality is near and we need to make the efforts to ensure it happens,’’ Bhagwat told the conclave.

Preaching caution, Bhagwat said that though the efforts to build a Ram temple have not gone to waste, “we have to take cautious steps forward”.

“For the benefit of the Hindu society and for its future, the only desire is to have a Ram Temple at Ayodhya and there is no other thought in our minds,” Bhagwat said. “So we should take steps to build on the efforts of the past years – there is a saying in English that there is a distance between the cup and the lip.”

Muslim outfits criticise Bhagwat

Muslim organisations, meanwhile, said Bhagwat had challenged the Supreme Court court, and demanded action against him, PTI reported. They said the RSS chief was attempting to assist the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Gujarat Assembly elections by diverting voters’ attention from “real” matters.

“The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has faith in the judiciary and will try to implement its order. By issuing this statement, Mohan Bhagwat has taken [the] law into his hands,” the organisation’s spokesperson Maulana Khaild Saifullah Rehmani said.

Babri Masjid Action Committee convener Zafaryab Jilani also accused Bhagwat of challenging the apex court and said that his comments were a threat to democracy.

“Despite the issue pending in the court, Mohan Bhagwat has given this statement only to divert the attention of voters in Gujarat from real issues,” All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yasoob Abbas said.

The row over the ownership of the 2.7 acres of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land has continued for decades. On December 6, 1992, Hindu volunteers gathered at the site had demolished the mosque. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.