Ram Mandir Issue: No Turning Back for Shiv Sena

In his interview with ‘Saamana’, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has called for an e-bhoomipujan for Ram temple construction which has irked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Ram Mandir Issue: No Turning Back for Shiv Sena

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has recently suggested that an e-bhoomipujan can be done via video conferencing for the foundation stone ceremony of Ram Mandir which is tentatively scheduled to be held on August 5. 

In his interview with ‘Saamana’, Thackeray said that since the coronavirus crisis prevails, there are restrictions to visit temples across the country. This is a moment of joy for the Ram devotees and many will be interested to attend the ceremony, he added while suggesting that an e-bhoomipujan can be done. 

“This is a moment of joy for lakhs of Ram bhakts. This is not an ordinary temple and many will be interested to attend the ceremony at Ayodhya. What will you do about them? An e-bhoomipujan can be done via video conference,” he said. 

The dialogue regarding the construction of Ram temple was initiated by Shiv Sena when no one else was speaking, Thackeray said talking about the contribution of Shiv Sena in the Ram Mandir movement. He added that it was his party which demanded centre to form law for it if there was a delay (by the courts) on the matter. 

The Chief Minister said, “I have visited Ayodhya thrice because of my faith in recent years. Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, I can visit Ayodhya because I am the Chief Minister and arrangements will be made but what about the lakhs of Ram Bhakts? Can they be stopped from going there?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust to lay the foundation stone for Ram Mandir construction on August 5 amidst the rising coronavirus cases across the country. 

Thackeray remarked that he was stopped from performing ‘aarti’ at Saryu river even though the coronavirus outbreak had just started in India. 

No Turning Back

When Thackeray visited Ayodhya in March earlier this year to commemorate 100 days of being in power, he asserted that Shiv Sena has only parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and not Lord Ram or Hindutva. 

However, in his recent interview to Shiv Sena leader and Executive Editor of ‘Saamana’ Sanjay Raut, Thackeray’s remarks suggest an irreversible shift in his party’s ideological viewpoint on Hindutva politics.

As per the Hindutva promoters, the Ram Mandir construction is a major triumphant of the politico-religious movement started by BJP patriarch LK Advani where several organisations including Shiv Sena contributed at the frontline. 

Since Uddhav is the Shiv Sena chief, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that his party’s priorities have changed over the years on the issue of hardline Hindutva. After ending its 35-year-old alliance, Shiv Sena earlier established that their Hindutva is different from the BJP.

One can argue that this development is inevitable in order to sustain a coalition government in collaboration with secular parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress. 

Shiv Sena rejects Hindutva

The BJP has accused Shiv Sena of rejecting Hindutva over its greed for power and chair. BJP MLA Ram Kadam slammed Thackeray for speaking the language of those who oppose Ram Mandir. 

“As the wait of nearly 400 years for Ram temple construction is nearing its end, the top leaders of Maharashtra including Sharad Pawar have indirectly opposed. Also, AIMIM leaders are also opposing it. Now, Uddhav Thackeray is also opposing the same while tweaking his words,” Kadam said. 

Moreover, Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Maharashtra legislative assembly, Devendra Fadnavis also slammed Thackeray over his demand to organise the ceremony for Ram Mandir via e-bhoomipujan. 

“The bhoomipujan in Ayodhya will be held on a grand scale and this is the wish of millions of Ram bhakts. There have been demands made to hold e-bhoomipujan for Ram Mandir by AIMIM and the Chief Minister. It surprises me that both MIM and Thackeray are speaking in one tone,” he said. 

Stating that opposing the bhoomipujan for Ram Mandir doesn’t suit the Chief Minister, the BJP has said that it is a matter of faith and no one should politicise it. 

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