What does Shiv Sena eye in Ayodhya?
New Delhi, June 10: Shiv Sena, Maharashtra's regional party, has proactively started participating in the Ram Janmabhoomi -Babri Masjid issue, popularly known as Ayodhya issue.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had visited Ayodhya in November last year and reaffirmed his party's commitment to the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.
Now, Thackeray along with his party's all the 18 newly-elected Lok Sabha MPs, will visit Ayodhya on June 16 to offer prayers to Lord Ram.
The party, a BJP ally, had earlier announced Thackeray and the new MPs will visit Ayodhya before the start of the Parliament session to make a fresh pitch for construction of a temple at the disputed site in the holy city.
A statement issued by the party had said Thackeray will offer prayers to "Ram Lalla" on June 16, a day ahead of the beginning of the Parliament session.
Shiv Sena's connection with Ayodhya is not new. According to Mumbai Police's report to Liberhan Commission, Shiv Sena MLA Moreshwar Save was leading a small group of Shiv Sainiks at Ram- Janambhoomi when the dispute Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992. It was Shiv Sena that had organised a strike in Mumbai on December 9 to protest against the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani, who had organised a Rath Yatra to demand the construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site in 1990.
In fact it was Advani's hardcore Hindutva that had paid dividends to the BJP in 1989 Lok Sabha elections when it won 85 seats. Following Advani's 'Ram Rath Yatra' in 1990, the party grew in strength and in the 1991 general elections, it increased its strength to 120.
Since then the BJP hasn't looked back. Where the party has reached today is because of Advani's hardcore Hindutva and Rath Yatra for building Ram Temple at Ayodhya. After the Babri demolition and subsequent communal riots, the case became sub-judice and the BJP put it on back burner. However, the saffron party moved towards soft Hindutva and made development a core agenda during former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure. With the emergence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's era in 2014, sabka saath sabka vikas (together with all, development for all) and hardcore nationalism have become trademark of BJP.
A Marathi journalist tells One India the reasons behind Shiv Sena's renewed interest in Ram-Janmabhoomi issue.
"Now, Ram Temple issue finds place in BJP's election manifestoes and the party is being accused of remembering the issue whenever the election are round the corner. Hindutva and nationalism have also been trademarks of Shiv Sena, Since Modi rule has drawn a line between nationalists and anti-nationalists and captured nationalism ground, Thackeray senses opportunity in Hindutva," says the journalist.
"The assembly of Shiv Sena supremo and party MPs at Ayodhya is an effort to send a message across the country that it's Shiv Sena and not the BJP that is serious about construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site. By saying 'first temple and then government', Sena is determined to snatch Hindtuva agenda from the BJP," adds the journalist.
It's notable Shiv Sena contested first election in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 when the Ram temple issue was at peak. Till now in 28 years, the party contested many elections in Uttar Pradesh but has not made any impact.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut has said that if the Ram Temple is not built now when the BJP has 303 seats and Sena 18 seats then people will beat us with shoes.
The party is demanding that Modi government should bring an Ordinance to pave way for Ram Temple because it realises that any government of the day cannot afford to play this gamble, says the journalist, adding that Sena will continue to corner BJP Modi government on this issue.