Uddhav downplays ally Prakash Ambedkar’s tributes at Aurangzeb’s tomb

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief notes that Mr. Advani bowed before Jinnah’s tomb, while Mr. Modi ate cake with Nawaz Sharif; says some parties want to foment riots in the name of Aurangzeb

June 20, 2023 09:01 pm | Updated 09:01 pm IST - PUNE

 Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray during the press conference held at Shivsena Bhavan in Dadar on Tuesday.

Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray during the press conference held at Shivsena Bhavan in Dadar on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray lashed out at his BJP detractors on Tuesday, even as he downplayed his ally, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) president Prakash Ambedkar’s recent visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb. In a veiled jibe, Mr. Thackeray noted that even stalwart BJP leader L.K. Advani had bowed before the tomb of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone to Pakistan to eat cake on occasion of then-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s birthday.

Speaking at the Sena Bhawan in Mumbai’s Dadar area, the Sena (UBT) chief said that some parties wanted people to be stuck in history and foment riots in the name of Aurangzeb or something else, as it suited them ahead of elections.

‘Stuck in history’

“When we used to be allies, [alluding to the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance of 25 years] L.K. Advani had bowed before Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s tomb [during his Pakistan visit in 2005] and PM Modi had gone to Pakistan to eat cake on the occasion of then-PM Nawaz Sharif’s birthday [in 2015]… There are some who want that people should remain stuck in history. They want to stoke riots in Aurangzeb’s name and run their business,” said Mr. Thackeray, taking aim at the ruling BJP over the wave of communal incidents that have rocked Maharashtra.

On Saturday, June 17, Mr. Ambedkar — the grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar — had visited Aurangzeb’s tomb in Sambhajinagar (formerly Aurangabad) and offered floral tributes to the Mughal emperor.

His eyebrow-raising visit came in the wake of the recent communal tensions in Ahmednagar and especially Kolhapur, which erupted in violence after some Muslim college students posted WhatsApp statuses and audio messages on Aurangzeb, which offended and provoked Hindu outfits.

‘Historical facts’

Following his visit, Mr. Ambedkar had said: “What was wrong in visiting Aurangzeb’s tomb? He was a Mughal emperor who ruled here for nearly 50 years. Can we wipe out history? Instead of abusing Aurangzeb, we should reflect on why he ruled here. What were the reasons… We should be mindful of our past. Instead of spreading hatred, let us reconcile ourselves to historical facts.”

Questioning the hullaballoo over some individuals posting pictures of Aurangzeb on social media, Mr. Ambedkar said that there was a deliberate attempt to politicise these issues.

“Had I been Chief Minister in place of Eknath Shinde, I would have swiftly put an end to these controversies within 24 hours,” the VBA chief said.

‘Glorifying Aurangzeb’

While Mr. Ambedkar said that his visit to Aurangzeb’s tomb would not affect his relations with Mr. Thackeray’s Sena (UBT) in any way, it has certainly given ammunition to the Opposition BJP, while also embarrassing Mr. Thackeray’s own Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai today, BJP leader and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis lashed out at Mr. Thackeray for condoning Mr. Ambedkar’s alleged “glorification” of Aurangzeb.

“Uddhav Thackeray is in alliance with Balasaheb Ambedkar. The latter goes to Sambhajinagar and throws flowers on Aurangzeb’s tomb. I want to ask Mr. Thackeray whether this glorification of Aurangzeb is acceptable to Maharashtra and the country?” Mr. Fadnavis said.

He added that after being in alliance with the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party for so long, Mr. Thackeray had completely forsaken his Hindutva and anything his allies did was now acceptable to him.

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