Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, has said that the ground-breaking ceremony for Shri Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya should be conducted using video conference amid Covid-19 pandemic. He said that he is ready to go to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh for the ceremony but will it not be possible for the administration to stop lakhs of “Ram Bhakts” from going there.
Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “Bhoomi Poojan” ceremony. They gave 3rd and 5th August as possible dates for the auspicious ceremony. PMO approved 5th August to be the date for the event. Thackeray, who has been invited for Bhoomi Poojan to represent Shiv Sena, has expressed concerns over the event.
PTI reported that Thackeray said in an interview published in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana‘ on Sunday, “The ground-breaking ceremony can be held through video-conference. This is an event of joy, and lakhs of people would be interested in attending the ceremony. Will we allow the spread of coronavirus?” He added that Shri Ram Temple has a background of struggle.
He suggested for Bhoomi Poojan via video link and said, “This is not an ordinary temple. Today, we are fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and religious gatherings are prohibited. I can go to Ayodhya for the ceremony, but what about lakhs of Ram bhakts. Will you stop them? You can do e-bhoomi poojan through video-conference.”
Thackeray said that when he last time visited Ayodhya, he was not allowed to perform ‘aarti’ at the Saryu river. Covid-19 pandemic just started to spread its roots in India at that time. He said, “Before that, I had seen huge crowds on the river banks. Ram Mandir is a matter of faith. How can you stop people from going there?”
Thackeray assumed office as the Chief Minister of the state under Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the support of NCP and Congress on 28th November 2019. He visited Ayodhya in March on completion of 100 days in office.
Legacy of Balasaheb undone
Though Balasaheb was not present at the site, Shiv Sena played a vital role in bringing down the disputed Babri Masjid. The Shiv Sena founder never shied away from praising the demolition. In 2018, while attacking PM Modi, Shiv Sena claimed that it was Balasaheb who took the responsibility of the demolition. They blamed BJP for not fulfilling the promise of Ram Mandir. In the editorial, they said that PM Modi does not speak a word about the Temple, which was one of the primary election promises.
In a statement on Babri demolition, Balasaheb had said, “I am glad that I have breathed life into the Hindus. Since the time of the Muslim invasion, nine centuries back, Hindus had lost their souls. The need to get their spine back, I did just that. That Rath even if it is power-driven appeals to the Hindu.”
This is the same Shiv Sena that played a crucial role in Ram Mandir movement, and now they have joined hands with likes of Congress and NCP for the post of Chief Minister. Uddhav Thackray, son of Balasaheb, has become a part of the crowd that is opposing Bhoomi Poojan directly or indirectly.
Attempts to stop Bhoomi Poojan
The opposition parties, Muslim groups and leftists groups are miffed with the Supreme Court judgement that favoured Ram Lala Virajman and Hindu groups. Since Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust announced that Bhoomi Poojan is going to happen in August and the temple will be constructed in the next 3.5 years, these groups are trying to cause trouble at every step.
Congress supporter Saket Gokhle had submitted a petition in Allahabad high court asking for a stay on Bhoomi Poojan, which was rejected. NCP leader Sharad Pawar has pointed fingers at the government saying while the country is fighting with coronavirus some people are planning to build temples. AAP leader Syed Asad Abbas got so rattled by the news of Bhoomi Poojan that he hurled sexist abuses at BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a debate. NCP even said that Pandit Nehru did not attend Bhoomi Poojan of Somnath temple but forgot to mention then-President Rajendra Prasad attended the function saying no one can stop him from following his faith.