Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said the Shiv Sena had parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party but not with the ideology of Hindutva, NDTV reported. Thackeray was addressing a gathering in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, on his first visit to the city after he was sworn in as the chief minister last year.
“I have parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party, not with Hindutva,” Thackeray said. “The BJP is not Hindutva. Hindutva is a different thing and I have not parted ways with it.”
The Shiv Sena leads the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance, which also has the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. The coalition was formed after former allies BJP and the Shiv Sena could not reach a power-sharing agreement following the Assembly elections in October 2019.
“I am here to seek the blessings of Ram Lalla. I have with me today several members of my ‘bhagwa’ [saffron] family,” he added, according to the Hindustan Times.
The Shiv Sena chief also announced a donation of Rs 1 crore for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on behalf of the Maharashtra government. He was scheduled to perform an aarti after the meeting which was later cancelled in light of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The last time I was here, [matters related to] the Ram temple were in a flux,” NDTV quoted Thackeray as saying. “I came here in November 2018. In November 2019, the [Supreme] Court gave a historic decision and for me, I became the chief minister. I have come here for a third time now and whenever I come here it brings good news to me.”
Thackeray said he spoke to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath about the construction of the temple on Friday. “I would request him [Adityanath] to give some place in Ayodhya for Ram bhakts who come to help in temple construction,” he added.
In a landmark ruling in November, the top court said the disputed land in Ayodhya would be assigned to a trust that will oversee the construction of a Ram temple there. The court also ruled that the Sunni Waqf Board be allotted five acres of land at another plot in Ayodhya to compensate for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of the 15-member trust on February 5. The date of the construction, and the name of the builder will be decided at the trust’s next meeting in Ayodhya on April 3 and 4.