Ram temple bhoomipujan: Shiv Sena to keep it low-keyUpdated: Aug 05, 2020 06:14 IST
Left out of the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya on Wednesday, the Shiv Sena will hold muted celebrations to mark the event, considering it has partnered with secular parties in Maharashtra to form the government and also because of the restriction on public gathering due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the run-up to the bhoomipujan, party leaders have been recounting and enlisting party and its workers’ contribution and sacrifice in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
With the BJP not yielding an inch of the credit for the temple in Ayodhya, the Sena is working at keeping its core identity, Hindutva, intact.
The party has put up hoardings across the city welcoming the construction of the Ram temple with slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. A giant hoarding with a picture of Lord Ram, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Sena founder Bal Thackeray, in the city has been put up with a phrase, ‘Saheb’s roar, dream fulfilment of Hindus’, followed by ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Another such hoarding had the slogan: ‘Advent of Ram Rajya, fulfilment of dreams’, followed by a slogan hailing Lord Ram.
The party had planned low-key celebrations in city’s wards, but they were later put off on account of the Covid-19 situation. Party leaders said no invitation for Thackeray is viewed as a positive step as it would have been complicated matters for the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government.
“There is no official celebration or an event planned by the party. On a local level, people may do something in their homes to mark the bhoomipujan. After all, Lord Ram is for everyone and not one political party. Given the Covid-19 scenario, it was not possible to plan anything officially,” said a Shiv Sena MP, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, Sena legislator Dilip Lande has planned sweet distribution, Mahaaarti in Ram temple, and puja in the 10 Shiv Sena Shakhas that fall under Chandivli Assembly constituency on Wednesday.
“There will be a mahaaarti in a Ram Temple, followed by firing crackers and sweet distribution. We are also going to felicitate a few kar sevaks, who Balasaheb said he took immense pride in,” Lande said.
Even though the Sena chief will not remain present in Ayodhya, Sena corporator from Mira-Bhayander, Vikram Pratap Singh, took the soil from the place where Sena founder Bal Thackeray was cremated to the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.
“We are sainiks [soldiers] of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav ji Thackeray and have come here with the pious soil from the Smriti Sthal of Balasaheb Thackeray. It was Balasaheb’s dream that a grand temple of Lord Ram be constructed in Ayodhya and it is getting recognised,” Singh said.
Singh along with the Shiv Sainiks who have accompanied him plan to light 492 diyas (lamps) on the banks of river Saryu and also hand over the soil to the head of the temple trust.
On the eve of the bhoomipujan for the Ram temple at Ayodhya, Shiv Sainiks recounted the call of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray around three decades ago to perform kar seva, at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
Twenty-eight years later, the Shiv Sena, which started with Hindutva as its core agenda, has snapped ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined hands with secular parties to head the government in Maharashtra. The party leadership, however, maintains they have not abandoned Hindutva.
After the entry of Thackeray scion Aaditya in the functioning of the party and the subsequent alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, the Sena was said to have gone soft on its Hindutva agenda by their political opponents and political observers.
Shiv Sena leader and former Lok Sabha MP Chandrakant Khaire, however, said, “Hindutva is our identity.” Sena party union chief Suryakant Mahadik added, “If you ask people which of the two parties-- BJP or Sena --is a staunch Hindutvawadi party, they will say Shiv Sena. We are still Hindutavawadi.”
Sena deputy leader Vishwanath Nerurkar attacked the BJP and PM Narendra Modi for ignoring the contribution of BJP stalwarts, including LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. “Advani did the Rath Yatra that stirred people’s emotions, but he is not there. Only PM Modi will be seen. What right do they have to claim credit for it? What has the temple got to do with politicians? Instead, the bhoomipujan should have been done at the hands of Shankaracharya. This is politics,” Nerurkar, who was then a Sena corporator, said.