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Barbs fly as Uddhav Thackeray plans to visit Ayodhya in March | Mumbai News


MUMBAI: Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has decided to visit Ayodhya in March to mark the completion of 100 days of his government, an announcement that drew his erstwhile Hindutva allies and the constituents of the secular Maha Vikas Aghadi into a round of sparring.

Thackeray’s visit to the temple town may cause unease in the Congress and NCP camps: the alliance in Maharashtra was founded on the agreement that any overt display of Sena’s Hindutva credentials would not sit well with the principles on which the coalition was formed.

BJP national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi was quick to welcome Thackeray’s decision and ask if Sena would take Congress along on the Ayodhya visit. Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut added to the discomfiture of Sena’s allies by tweeting that it wanted its alliance partners to accompany them. “Rahul Gandhi also visits several temples,” Raut said.

Congress, however, cautioned that the visit should not be for public display, while NCP said the party never mixes politics with religion. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the party did not practice religion-based politics. “We do visit temples, but not for politics or public display. Lord Purushottam is a symbol of love and sacrifice. If we seek his darshan, it will wipe out hatred,” he said.

Uddhav’s temple trip: Cong says it’s individual choice

Sawant said it was a strong desire of the Congress to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya. He said Rajiv Gandhi had made the point clear when he was prime minister in 1989. “But then the whole issue was pending before Supreme Court and now that the apex court has disposed of the case, there is no dispute. As such, it’s an individual’s decision as to which place he should visit,” he said.

NCP spokesperson and skill development minister Nawab Malik said, “We have not imposed restrictions on practising religion on our members; they have complete freedom. An individual has freedom to visit the place of his religion or faith,” Malik said.

Shiv Sena chief Thackeray took oath on November 28 along with six cabinet ministers at Shivaji Park. The government marked 50 days in office recently and its 100-day mark would be reached on March 6. Raut’s tweet said: “Chalo Ayodhya.. CM Uddhav Thackeray will visit Ayodhya on completion of 100 days in power

It was followed by another tweet: “The government is working hard and will stay for next five years by the grace of Lord Rama. After 100 days in office, Uddhav Thackeray will take blessings of Lord Rama and decide the future course of action.” Later, Raut said the Ayodhya visit would be a non-political event. Raut had taken the lead in the formation of the tripartite government comprising Sena, NCP and Congress.

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