A tale of two Thackerays: From Ayodhya visit to BMC polls

Shiv Sena, who leads the ruling Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) coalition in Maharashtra, has been doing everything possible to ensure that everything runs smoothly while Aditya Thackeray’s 15th June visit to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Aditya, the son of Prime Minister and Sina President Udhav Thackeray, is the Minister for Environment, Tourism and Protocol as well as the Chairman of Yuva Sina, the youth wing of the party.

Aditya, 31, visits the Ram temple in the pilgrimage town in the run-up to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. The Sena party has been ruling Mumbai’s civilian body for many years now, even as its ally-turned-major, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the state’s main opposition, is making a massive attempt to challenge the party in the upcoming BMC elections.

The Sina denied any policy of Aditya’s visit to Ayodhya, asserting that its leaders and “party members” often went on a pilgrimage to the holy city in the past. However, the party made huge preparations to facilitate Aditya’s journey. Sina MP Sanjay Raut and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde visited the temple city recently to oversee these preparations. On June 12, the Sina leaders will go again to Ayodhya for this purpose to ensure that Aditya’s visit goes smoothly as per plan.

Raut said, “Aditya’s trip to Ayodhya is non-political. It is a purely religious tour. There is no politics or agenda. Aditya will perform prayer at Ram Lala Temple, perform Aarti on the banks of Sarayo River. Later, he will interact with local media.”

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Yuva Sena leader Varun Sardisai is part of the party leaders team making arrangements for Aditya’s Ayodhya tour. Apart from the Sina unit in Mumbai, the party’s Nashik unit was also involved in these preparations.

Significantly, Sena announced Aditya’s visit to Ayodhya in April, shortly after Maharashtra declared Navnirman Sena his party chief. Visit Ram Raj Thackeray Temple.

Raj, Uddhav’s estranged cousin, attempt to raise his tone on Hindutva, seeking to ban the use of loudspeakers for the call to prayer in mosques, followed by announcing his trip to Ayodhya, rings alarm bells in Sina. Encouraged by the BJP, the movement made attempts to emerge as an alternative to the Sena party, attacking the latter for being “soft” on Hindutva after it joined forces with the NCP and Congress to form the MVA government in Shabbat.

Influenced by the BJP-backed Raj’s Hindutva, Sena sought to discredit the MNS, putting up posters across Maharashtra to highlight the differences between “real Sena’s Hindu and fake MNS”. After the Raj, Raut said, “The people of Uttar Pradesh are wise. They know who comes to Ayodhya with faith to pray, and who comes with a political agenda.” In response, MNS rejected the allegations, claiming that “Raj Thackeray never uses religion in politics.”

But last month, Raj canceled his scheduled 5 June visit to Ayodhya on the grounds that he would need a break for medical treatment. This came days after BJP Chairman and BJP Member of Parliament, Brij Bhushan Charan Singh, threatened to ban Raj from entering Ayodhya, demanding the head of the National Security Movement to make an unconditional apology for his remarks and alleged atrocities committed by his workers against North Indians in the past. .

Apparently, the Sena leadership planned Aditya’s Ayodhya tour to reassert the party’s Hindutva credentials and counter the Raj’s Hindutva campaign. Before the BMC polls, it also sought to reach out to North Indians, who make up about 20 percent of Mumbai’s electorate. The ruling party believes that the North Indian vote may be crucial in its bid to retain power in the BMC.

However, Ayodhya is not a new destination for Aditya. He had earlier visited the temple town with his father twice – in November 2018 and March 2020. In November 2018, Uddhav visited Ayodhya to affirm Sena’s commitment to Ram Temple. Months after becoming Prime Minister, in March 2020, Chief Sena visited Ayodhya again, when he offered prayers and donated Rs Crore to build the temple there.

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