Union minister Giriraj Singh on Saturday said he hoped that Sunni Muslims, like Shias, would support building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, reported PTI. Speaking at the inauguration of the 25th Rashtriya Kavi Sammelan in Maharashtra’s Thane, Singh said, “I’m hopeful Sunni Muslims will also extend their support for the cause.”

Singh’s comments come five days before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to give its verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title dispute case. The top court has been hearing 13 appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court judgment. The High Court had ruled a three-way split of the disputed 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya among the Sunni Waqf Board, a Hindu organisation called the Nirmohi Akhara, and Ram Lalla or Infant Rama, which is represented by the Hindu Mahasabha, for the construction of the Ram temple.

On Friday, Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board Chairman Waseem Rizvi had said that Muslims who oppose the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He called such people fundamentalists. In November 2017, the board had submitted a proposal before the Supreme Court that said a temple can be built in Ayodhya and the mosque could be raised in Lucknow.

During his speech in Thane, Singh, the Minister of State for micro, small and medium enterprises, added that there was a need to check the country’s population. He said birth control measures were required to ease the pressure on resources like land and water. On Sunday, he reiterated himself and said the rise in population was the biggest hindrance to development.

“In China 11 children are born every minute and in India number is 29,” said Singh, according to ANI. “[The] UN said if this isn’t brought under check, in future, 1 out of 10 people won’t have access to potable water. So it’s dangerous both to social harmony and development. Social harmony gets fractured wherever Hindu population drops.”