Uddhav Thackeray sounds 2019 election bugle from Ayodhya 

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Eyes on the next elections, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray visited Ayodhya urging the central government to start the work on the Ram Mandir soon. After visiting the disputed site in Ayodhya, Thackeray said he will return to the city if the temple is not built at the earliest. He wrapped up his two-day visit to Ayodhya on Sunday, his first political event outside Maharashtra.

Thackeray on Saturday asked the Narendra Modi-led government to wake up from slumber” and declare a date for the construction of a Ram temple. “My Ayodhya yatra has started; I wish that the Ram temple is constructed at the earliest and that I get to come here to pay obeisance to Lord Ram. If it is not constructed, then I will have no choice but to come here with the determination to build the Ram temple,” Thackeray told Sena leader and Saamana editor Sanjay Raut in an interview. He also came up with a new slogan for the General Elections next year:  “Har Hindu ki yahi pukaar, pehle mandir phir sarkaar” (Every Hindu demand this, first build temple [Ram Temple] and then the government).

Thackeray attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and said that the Modi government has a full majority, and yet it is not pushing for the temple. He demanded an ordinance to facilitate the construction. Terming the construction of a Ram temple a matter of “pride for all Hindus across the world”, Thackeray said, “Unfortunately, the Ram temple has been made to be stuck in the legal tangle. To resolve it, the government will have to come with an ordinance… If the government has to be pressured [to build a Ram temple in India], there is nothing unfortunate than this.”

Thackeray’s visit to the temple town was an important one for the party as the issue would help them create a mark on the national stage. Though the party has been advocating for a Ram temple since the 1990s, this is the first time that a leader from the party ventured outside its home state and took on the BJP. Thackeray, in the interview, added that Shiv Sena leaders and followers of the party are the “Ram setu” (a mythological bridge between India and Sri Lanka) between Maharashtra and Ayodhya. Sena leaders called the visit “successful”, but added that had Thackeray got an opportunity to hold a rally, it would have had more impact.

Meanwhile, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is not a political issue. Lord Ram is a deity for entire India. Thackeray would get his blessings too,” Fadnavis told reporters in Karad.

BJP state chief Raosaheb Danve welcomed Thackeray’s Ayodhya visit. “Though we have the strength in Lok Sabha, we do not have the numbers in Rajya Sabha. However, we are positive on it.” On the alliance with the Sena, Danve said, “I am sure Thackeray will have a change of heart after Lord Ram’s darshan.”

Also Read: Temple talks get louder as general elections come closer

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