Ram Mandir: Here’s Why The Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray Is Visiting Ayodhya

MUMBAI, INDIA  NOVEMBER 22: Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks boarded the special train leaving to Ayodhya from Thane station to join Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on his journey to the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, on November 22, 2018 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Praful Gangurde/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NAGPUR, Maharashtra — On Sunday November 25, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will visit Ayodhya and offer prayers to Lord Ram on the banks of the Sarayu river.

Over 3000 Shiv Sena workers are set accompany Thackeray who has claimed that his visit to Ayodhya is to seek answers from the ruling BJP over the delay in construction of Ram temple.

On the same day, the Vishva Hindu Parishad is organising a public rally in Ayodhya and a “Hunkar Rally” near the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Sunday to mount pressure on Modi government to expedite construction of the temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

While Thackeray’s antics clearly appears to be driven by local political equations in Maharashtra and an ambition to get noticed nationally, it is directly helping the RSS which is creating an atmosphere to mount pressure on the government on the same issue.

Despite being a part of Maharashtra’s ruling coalition with the BJP for over four years now, Udhhav has been very critical of the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state and the Modi government at the centre.

READ: “Gutter Insect”, “Spineless”: Thackeray Jr Versus Pawar Jr Battle Heats Up In Maharashtra

The Shiv Sena’s relentless tirade against Fadnavis government appears to more of an attempt to shrink space for opposition Congress and NCP than to seriously corner the BJP. Despite ranting continuously at the Fadnavis government, Udhhav is yet to pull out of the coalition.

Earlier this year, Uddhav declared that he would not align with the BJP in the upcoming elections.

Shiv Sena insiders say pulling out of Fadnavis government any time before elections would not do any good to the party as the BJP leadership would not mind luring Shiv Sena MLAs to continue in power.

Shiva Sena Vs. MNS

The Shiv Sena, under Bal Thackeray, has always taken a position as an ultra-right political outfit claiming to be championing the cause of Hindutva.

Unlike his father, Uddhav is a restrained person. Many doubted his ability to steer Shiv Sena after his father’s death especially due to stiff competition from his cousin Raj Thackeray who had quit the Shiv Sena and formed the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

In 2009 state assembly elections, the MNS won 13 seats and became a force to reckon with.

Until the 2014 general elections, Raj’s MNS appeared to have snatched the Marathi agenda from the Shiv Sena.

However, Uddhav’s resurrected Shiv Sena in 2014. The party won 18 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 general elections and 63 seats in assembly elections later that year. The MNS was decimated.

But the satisfaction of decimation of MNS remained short-lived for Shiv Sena as its long-time coalition partner BJP had emerged as the single largest party in Maharashtra assembly in the same election with 122 seats and staked a claim for government formation.

Even before Shiv Sena could plan its next move and final results of assembly elections were to be declared, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar announced outside support for the BJP government adding to Uddhav’s frustration.

For a couple of months, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde roamed around in Maharashtra as a leader of the opposition but just before the winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur, Shiv Sena joined the government.

Uddhav agreed to become a part of the Devendra Fadnavis government but he has been carrying out a tirade against it even after four years.

By joining the chorus for Ram temple, Uddhav made sure he appeases Shiv Sena’s hardliner support base and by continuing his tirade against Fadnavis and Modi government he continues to attract non-committal voters ahead of the year in which his party is going to face two back to back elections.

Bal Thackeray had openly admitted his party’s involvement in the destruction of Babri Masjid when senior BJP leaders like L.K.Advani had tried to distance themselves from it.

Coincidently, Uddhav’s announcement of the Ayodhya visit and RSS’s demand that Modi government bring an ordinance on Ram temple came on the same day.

The Sangh Pariwar’s sudden stimulation on the Ram temple issue is more than obvious.

The anti-Modi faction inside the RSS would love to corner the central government on Ram temple issue and the pro-Modi faction would like to use this opportunity to set the stage for a possible ordinance on Ram temple once the model code of conduct in place for ongoing assembly elections comes to an end.

Incidentally, the Shiv Sena and RSS’s programs are being organiwed in Ayodhya on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, by Karsevaks and Shiv Sena members.