Other States

Raj Thackeray puts much-hyped Ayodhya visit on hold, says he will give reasons at Pune rally

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. File

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray. File | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

After much hype, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Friday announced that he was putting his June 5 visit to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh temporarily on hold.

Mr. Raj Thackeray, who took to Twitter to announce his decision, further said that he would speak in detail on the reasons for his postponement during his rally slated at Pune’s Ganesh Kala Krida Kendra on May 22 (Sunday). According to sources, health reasons may have played a part in Mr. Raj Thackeray’s decision.

The MNS chief’s proposed visit has been vociferously opposed by Uttar Pradesh MP Brij Bhushan Singh, who had demanded an apology from Mr. Raj Thackeray on account of the MNS’ past “mistreatment of north Indians” and the party’s regional chauvinism.

However, the MNS chief had refused to respond to Mr. Singh.

Mr. Raj Thackeray’s partymen had assaulted a number of north Indian aspirants across the State during the railway recruitment exams in 2008, demanding that local Maharashtrians be given jobs in their lieu.  

Following the temporary postponement of the visit, Mr. Singh responded by calling the MNS chief “an unfortunate person” who would have done well to “seek forgiveness from U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Modi” for his actions against north Indians.

“Bad fortune is dogging his [Raj Thackeray’s] heels… had he sought forgiveness from Yogi Adityanath or PM Modi, this [postponement] would not have happened. But, by not apologising, the old wounds have reopened. Now, he will not be allowed into any province in north India and there will be plenty of people besides me to oppose him,” said Mr. Singh.

Mr. Raj Thackeray’s much-hyped Ayodhya visit comes at a time of fierce sabre-rattling over Maharashtra’s ‘Hindutva’ space between the ruling Shiv Sena, on the one hand, and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the MNS on the other.

The Sena, allied to the ideologically opposed Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, has been targeted by the BJP for forsaking Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s militant Hindutva ideals. The MNS, accused by the Sena of acting like the BJP’s ‘B-team’, has upped the ‘Hindutva’ ante by demanding the Uddhav Thackeray-led tripartite MVA government to remove loudspeakers from mosques.

Meanwhile, commenting on Mr. Raj Thackeray’s postponement of his Ayodhya visit, Sena MP Sanjay Raut hit out at the BJP remarking that it was using certain political leaders, without naming the MNS chief, for its own political gains.

“These leaders ought to wise up to the fact that they are being used by BJP for its selfish ends,” Mr. Raut said.

He pointedly added that if anyone required any help or was facing difficulties in reaching Ayodhya, the Sena would gladly extend all help to that leader given the party’s considerable presence and respect there.

Mr. Raut confirmed that Shiv Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray accompanied by hundreds of Shiv Sainiks would be visiting Ayodhya on June 15 as planned.  

On the other hand, BJP leader Pravin Darekar said there was no particular reason to believe that Mr. Raj Thackeray had put his visit on hold owing to Mr. Singh’s protest against him.

“That was his [Mr. Singh’s] personal opinion. No one can stop Raj Thackeray from visiting Ayodhya,” said Mr. Darekar.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 3:00:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/raj-thackeray-puts-ayodhya-visit-on-hold-says-he-will-give-reasons-at-pune-rally/article65438925.ece