‘Kashi-Mathura important but…’: Sena sees a 2024 link to mandir-masjid disputes

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s criticism of the BJP comes in the wake of the growing clamour for the construction of temples in Kashi and Mathura on the argument that temples were demolished by Islamic rulers to build mosques
A view of Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple and Shahi Idgah masjid, in Mathura on Thursday. Mathura court allows lawsuit demanding removal of Shahi Idgah masjid (ANI)
A view of Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple and Shahi Idgah masjid, in Mathura on Thursday. Mathura court allows lawsuit demanding removal of Shahi Idgah masjid (ANI)
Published on May 20, 2022 11:35 AM IST
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MUMBAI: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of stoking the “mandir-masjid” issue with an eye on the 2024 general elections, saying such issues were raked up to create religious tensions in the country.

“I think, the preparation for 2024 [elections] are on in such a way that all historic and religious places are being excavated to create tension in the country,” Raut told TV news channels in Delhi.

Raut’s criticism of the BJP comes in the wake of the growing clamour for the construction of temples in Kashi and Mathura on the argument that temples were demolished by Islamic rulers to build mosques, and therefore, the land should be returned to Hindus. Muslim groups reject the contention.

To be sure, BJP leaders say the party’s official stand on these disputes is that the issue will be examined by the courts and everyone should wait for the outcome. But multiple BJP leaders have supported the reclamation of the temples.

The Shiv Sena MP, however, underscored that this did not mean that issues such as the Kashi-Mathura temple are important issues for Hindutva parties such as the Shiv Sena. But the Centre, he added, must speak on inflation and other such issues.

“The Kashi-Mathura temple issue is important for us but sparking riots over the issue to contest polls must be avoided by both sides. We see what is happening in Sri Lanka. All the sides must tread carefully on such issues,” Raut said .

“Such issues must be resolved with consensus after the Ayodhya temple is being built. All the time is being wasted on what’s under the Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid. Nobody is talking about inflation, unemployment, and the economic situation in the country; Elections are contested on these issues,” Raut said.

Raut’s criticism of the BJP over the temple-mosque row in Varanasi and Mathura comes against the backdrop of efforts by the Shiv Sena to underline its Hindutva roots. At a rally at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex on May 14, party chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray came down heavily on the BJP over what he termed “fake Hindutva” that was “misleading” the nation.

The Sena’s Hindutva, Thackeray said meant having “Lord Ram in their hearts and giving jobs to people”.

On Thursday, a Mathura court decided to admit a petition that sought the removal of Shahi Eidgah mosque in Mathura and handing over the entire premises to the Katra Keshav Dev Temple, reviving a decades-old religious legal dispute at a time when a similar legal fight is roiling Varanasi in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Masjid case.


    Swapnil Rawal is Principal Correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers urban development and infrastructure. He had long stints with leading national dailies and has experience of over a decade in journalism.

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