Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ruled out that Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena is making attempts to hijack the Ram Mandir issue.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ruled out that Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is making attempts to hijack the Ram Mandir issue. In an interview with The Indian Express, Fadnavis said that in fact, he was happy that Shiv Sena has started talking about the cause and it has only brought greater support and strength.
“There is no question of anybody hijacking anybody’s issues. On the contrary, I am happy. Till now, BJP was the only party talking of Ram Mandir. If Sena has also taken up the issue, it brings greater support and strength to the cause,” he said.
“In the past, late Bal Thackeray had accepted Hindutva. I feel the Shiv Sena is going back to the roots,” Fadnavis added.
The CM’s remark comes in the backdrop of Thakeray’s call for early construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya. In his Dussehra address a few days ago, he had criticised the BJP to say he was ‘saddened by the fact the mandir hasn’t been built yet’. Demanding a clarity from the BJP over its stand on Ram Mandir, the Sena chief had announced he will visit Ayodhya on November 25.
Terming Thackeray’s speech as a positive criticism, Fadnavis said, “Let us reflect on Uddhavji’s speech at the Dusshera rally. It was on Hindutva. Now, other than BJP, which party subscribes to the Hindutva ideology? I don’t believe Uddhavji will allow division of Hindutva votes and go the extra mile to get pseudo seculars like Congress and NCP, who are scared to even utter the word Hindutva. In any case, which party would like to set its own house of fire and sit and enjoy.”
Watch video: Uddhav speaks on Ram Mandir issue
When Fadnavis was asked will Ram temple be an election issue in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he replied, “Ram temple is a commitment given by the BJP. But it is not an election issue for the party.”
“For us, it is a matter of identity and faith. Especially, when so many people firmly believe in the cause. The BJP has never looked at it to serve vested political interests,” he added.
Fadnavis for pre-poll alliance with Sena
On ties with the Shiv Sena, Fadnavis said that he is hopeful that the two parties will enter the fray together next year. He said that contesting elections separately will affect the votes of both the parties.
“The Sena and BJP have not initiated the process formally as yet. But we are hopeful of entering into a pre-poll alliance,” he said.
Fadnavis added that at the same time, the BJP is prepared for all options.
“We have set up our booths in constituencies. I will also tour all 48 Lok Sabha seats. Uddhav is also touring. But then it does not mean we are working at crossroads,” the CM opined.
“The political reality is if Congress and NCP unite, we contest separately, our votes will split. It will affect both Sena and BJP… If Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad or Mayawati and Mulayam Singh can come together, what is the problem with BJP and Sena allying, which has always co-existed and worked together,” the Chief Minister said.
The Shiv Sena which shares power with the BJP at Centre and Maharashtra as well has declared that it will contest the general elections and assembly elections solo. The party had in 2014 contested both elections separately but joined the ranks with the BJP later to form the government.