Amid the competing politics over Ram temple, the Shiv Sena on Thursday announced that its chief Uddhav Thackeray will visit Ayodhya after Dussehra to reaffirm his party’s commitment to the issue. The announcement came a day after Ram Janmabhoomi Trust chief Janmejay Sharanji Maharaj met Thackeray at the party’s headquarters Sena Bhawan here.
Sharanji Maharaj invited Thackeray to visit Ayodhya, telling him that the trust needed the Sena’s assistance for the construction of Ram temple, Shiv Sena sources said. Thackeray will announce the date of his visit to Ayodhya at the party’s annual Dussehra rally to be held in Mumbai on October 19, senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut told PTI.
He said his party has been maintaining that only the Shiv Sena has the “courage” to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Shiv Sena is of the view that if the Ram temple is not constructed now, then it cannot be constructed ever, he added.
Thackeray had recently said that the BJP would once again rake up the emotive issue of Ram temple in the run-up to the 2019 polls. Ram temple construction in Ayodhya has been one of the core issues of the BJP, which is an ally of the Shiv Sena.
The Sena, which has resolved to go solo in the future elections, has often targeted the BJP for “delaying” the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya despite having a majority. “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,” Raut said Thursday.
Sharanji Maharaj said he told the Shiv Sena chief that his father late Bal Thackeray had contributed to the demolition of the Babri Masjid (on December 6, 1992), he should now contribute to the construction of the Ram temple there. With the Lok Sabha polls less than a year away, the pitch for contruction of Ram temple in Ayodhya has been intensifying lately within the BJP, even as the matter is sub-judice.
Senior Sena leader Arvind Sawant said that before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the NDA had given three assurances to people -to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and to solve the Kashmir issue. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution accords special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We are not doing something which we haven’t spoken about earlier. When nobody took responsibility of the Babri Masjid demolition, (Sena founder) Balasaheb did so. Now four-and-a-half years have passed (since NDA came to power) but the construction of Ram temple has still not begun and the issue is pending in court,” Sawant said.
“The Sena will stand for the issue,” said the Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai South constituency. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra.