Will see if political social distancing is done: Sena on Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan
Barely days after the date for the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya was finalised, the Shiv Sena said that it will see if “political social distancing” is followed in invitations to various people, including Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that the Sena chief does not need an invitation to visit Ayodhya.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Ayodhya for the bhoomi pujan ceremony of the Ram Mandir on August 5. Following that there were speculations if Thackeray, whose party has been at the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement since the late 1980s, would be invited.
BJP and Shiv Sena stitched the political alliance in the backdrop of the movement and Hindutva ideology in Maharashtra in 1989. The former allies, BJP and Sena, parted ways late last year after the latter formed a government in Maharashtra with the support of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
“I have heard through the media that the date for the ceremony has been decided. The Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas (Trust) has given an invitation to the prime minister. So he will go to Ayodhya on this occasion, we regularly keep going to Ayodhya. They will decide on the invitation, how many people to call, how to maintain social distancing. It is also to be seen if they follow political ‘social distancing’,” Raut said in an apparent jibe at the BJP. He added that the Sena chief has been visiting Ayodhya regularly even before he became the chief minister and will continue to do so.
The senior Sena leader added that the party has “paved the way” for the construction of the Ram Temple and it was instrumental in removing “obstacles” for it. “Shiv Sena has a connection with Ayodhya and it will remain eternally. It is not a political connection. Shiv Sena has never gone to Ayodhya for political gains. The road for Ram Mandir was paved by the Shiv Sena. The obstacles to building the Ram Mandir were cleared by the Shiv Sena not for politics, but because of [our] faith and for Hindutva,” he said speaking to reporters in Mumbai.
On Sunday, South Mumbai MP and former union minister Arvind Sawant said that the Sena does not bother about an invitation to visit Ayodhya. He added that Thackeray during his last visit donated Rs 5 crore on behalf of the party to the temple trust for the construction of the Ram Mandir.