With an announcement of Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya post Dussehra as a part of ‘Chalo Ayodhya’, it appears as an indication that apart from taking away the limelight from BJP on the Ram Mandir issue for the upcoming elections, Uddhav has covered all the bases to carry forward his father Bal Thackeray’s legacy in Ayodhya.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday issued a statement that the party chief Uddhav Thackeray will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh after Dussehra. Thackeray is yet to finalise a date of his visit during the party’s annual Dussehra rally scheduled to be held in Mumbai on October 19. According to media reports, Thackeray had also met Ram Janmabhoomi Trust Chief Janmejay Sharanji Maharaj at the party’s headquarters Sena Bhawan on Wednesday evening. During the meeting, Sharanji Maharaj urged Sena’s assistance in the construction of Ram temple and invited Thackeray to visit Ayodhya. BJP came into power by promising to build Ram Mandir but they failed to fulfil their promise and it’s high time this issue must be taken up by the Sena with ‘Chalo Ayodhya’ slogan.
When AV spoke to Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, he expressed, “The construction of Ram Mandir was never an agenda of BJP alone. Indian voters have not voted for BJP to listen to excuses that ‘the Temple issue is under judiciary and hence nothing can be done’. If the government can pass an ordinance for many other issues in the last four years, why doesn’t Ram Mandir issue get the same importance? Ram Mandir is not a political agenda or vote bank politics for Shiv Sena. Ayodhya residents have welcomed Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainiks from all over India will join us.”
After the BJP sidelining the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, now Shiv Sena is grabbing the opportunity which it did decades ago to lure the north Indian voters by digging up the dead and buried matter. Nonetheless, Sena after declaring to go solo for the 2019 elections, has never refrained away from criticising BJP for its delay in building a Ram Temple at Ayodhya in the past four year tenure in the government. “The Sena has always championed the cause of Ram temple in Ayodhya. The BJP, despite being in power for four years, has not yet fulfilled its commitment of building a grand Ram temple there,” Sena party leader Raut said. Thackeray had recently alleged the BJP for raking up the emotive issue once again in the run-up to the 2019 polls. Though BJP chooses to remain silent on Sena’s accusations.
BJP leader Madhu Chavan commented, “Both BJP and Shiv Sena are together governing both in Maharashtra and at the centre and the Shiv Sena has all the right to visit Ayodhya; BJP welcomes their decision. I don’t want to comment on Sena blaming BJP’s failure to keep promises to build the Ram Temple. BJP will support any party who will come forward to support the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Although, I can’t say whether BJP will take an active part in it.”
However, the Ram temple at Ayodhya has been a symbol of Sena’s sacrifice for Hindutva and the party would fulfil the promise of constructing it fully, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had said back in 2009. The Ram temple is a symbol of Sena’s sacrifice for Hindutva, an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana was mentioned. Thackeray had proudly credited Sena for bringing down the Masjid saying that Kothari brothers, who demolished the domes of Masjid and hosted a saffron flag there were Shiv Sainiks and that he was proud of them.
Later in 2012, the fallout of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement had caused tension across the country. Thackeray used his party newspaper and mouthpiece, Saamna, in which, just on the eve of the Babri Masjid demolition, he wrote an incendiary editorial, Towards Ayodhya. He was quoted saying, “Now, no one can stop the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. An ocean of millions of Ram devotees is surging to Lord Ram’s Ayodhya. Our brave Shiv Sainiks are also joining in.”
In a conversation with Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap regarding Sena’s chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya, he stated that all these are electional jumlas to allure the north Indian voters. They must have done this much before. Sena neither cares about Mumbai nor Ayodhya Ram Mandir while BJP’s agenda doesn’t even have the same.
“Our only question is what made Sena take this decision now prior to the election while both Sena and BJP are ruling both the centre and the state for so long? Ram Mandir was nowhere in the discussion in the past four years. Now Sena talks about Hindu emotions; have they ever thought of Mumbai and Maharashtra’s emotions? Near to 25 years, they have ruled the state but the city’s pity condition has gone to become worst. I will not be surprised if BJP joins Sena back with the Ram Mandir issue to play with the emotions of voters again as they have been doing for so many years,” he further stated.
If BJP genuinely had that intention, Ram Mandir would have been constructed by now. When BJP was in the opposition at Centre, they assured that the temple will be built after they come to power. After 2014, they said it will take more time till UP has a BJP government. Now despite being in power at the centre and in UP as well with a full majority, Ram Mandir is still not built. The Shiv Sena is of the view that if the Ram temple is not built now, then it cannot be constructed ever.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande asserted, “Hindutva and Ram Temple were the only two issues that brought Shiv Sena into an alliance with the NDA. The 25-year-long alliance is now broken. We value the sentiments of all the Hindustanis to see Ram temple being built in Ayodhya. Since it’s no longer in BJP’s agenda and they are not keen about it, Sena will go ahead. In the Dussehra rally, Uddhav will disclose what the party and he himself have planned about it. BJP even disowned the Babri Masjid demolition responsibilities and kept on passing the buck on others. It was Balasaheb who was the only person to proudly accept the responsibility.”