Shiv Sena wants CM Uddhav Thackeray to visit Ayodhya; NCP, Congress in a fix
NCP believes head of a secular democracy should not promote a particular religion, while Cong says it's a matter of personal faith
It being almost certain that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the proposed Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the parties that have been proclaiming secularism and had joined hands with the Shiv Sena despite ideological differences, are now in a fix. While a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said the head of a secular democracy should refrain from promoting a particular religious activity, the Congress leadership said the CM's visit should be treated as a matter of his personal faith.
Sena takes a call
But it seems the Congress and NCP would not have much say in the matter because the Sena has made up its mind to be part of the historic event. Sena leaders said the Ram temple wasn't part of the common minimum programme of the parties that were ideologically different yet together in the government.
The Ram Mandir bhoomipujan has been in the news ever since the schedule was announced last week. Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar said some leaders thought the construction of Ram Mandir would cure people of COVID-19, apparently targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also received flak for this from the pro-mandir people and parties.
On Tuesday, NCP's ex-MP Majeed Memon flagged the issue by raising the MVA government's secular credentials. This prompted the state BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye to quip whether the CM would require the Congress and NCP's permission to accept the Ayodhya trust invite.
Masking Centre's failure?
State Cabinet minister Balasaheb Thorat said it was important for people to survive the COVID-19 pandemic before taking a darshan of Lord Ram and added, "The bhoomipujan has been scheduled with a purpose of masking the Centre's failure to control the pandemic."
Memon tweeted, "Uddhav Thackeray is among the invitees for the bhoomipujan of Ram Temple. He may participate respecting COVID-19 restrictions in his personal capacity. The head of a secular democracy should refrain from promoting a particular religious activity." In a tweet that followed, Memom said his statement wasn't necessarily his party's version. "My tweets are my personal views as I am not the authorised spokesperson of the NCP," he added.
Matter of national pride
For Sena, the CM going to Ayodhya is a matter of national pride. Party MP Sanjay Raut defended Pawar's comment saying the leader hadn't opposed the temple construction, but confirmed that Uddhav would visit Ayodhya on August 5.
"Even Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had welcomed the court verdict. The temple will be built as per the court's orders. And delaying the groundbreaking ceremony further isn't appropriate. The Ram Mandir is a matter of national pride for us," Raut told the media, adding that Thackeray had visited Ayodhya before too and the Sena chief's role in the mission was as crucial as that of many others.
Sources said Thackeray's participation in the ceremony was anybody's guess, but creating a buzz before he went there was a measured move for both the BJP and Sena. They added that his presence at the ceremony would be seen as an open-arms approach of the BJP towards Sena when the Congress is struggling to keep its government intact in Rajasthan and NCP is uncertain of its flock loyalty. Through his visit to Ayodhya, Thackeray would also be able to score some brownie points over its MVA partners, who have adapted to a soft Hindutva.
Day the ground-breaking ceremony of the Ram Mandir will take place
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