Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned of a “conspiracy (yielding a) Godhra-like incident… in the name of the Ram temple” after its inauguration in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. The temple is to be inaugurated in January, months before the Lok Sabha election, and is likely to be attended by tens of thousands of Hindus from across the country.
Mr Thackeray’s claim against the Bharatiya Janata Party, in power at the centre, has been sharply criticised by senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, who reminded his former ally that Balasaheb Thackeray (the late Shiv Sena founder) had “blessed” the Ram temple movement, and declared he would “pray to Lord Ram for wisdom (to the opposition leader)”.
Mr Thackeray’s remark was also slammed by Union Minister Anurag Thakur and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
At an event in Jalgaon, Uddhav Thackeray referred to a “possibility that many Hindus will be called from all over the country in buses and trains… and, while returning from there, a Godhra incident can be carried out somewhere on the way”.
“This can happen… attack can happen. In some colony they will burn buses, throw stones… massacres will take place. The country will be on fire again… and they will bake their political bread on these flames,” the Shiv Sena UBT leader declared.
VIDEO | “It is a possibility that the government could invite a large number of people for the Ram Temple inauguration in buses and trucks, and on their return journey, an incident similar to that in Godhra may occur,” said Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray earlier.
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) September 11, 2023
At least 58 people were killed, and an entire nation traumatised, in February 2002 after some coaches of the Sabaramati Express were set on fire at Gujarat’s Godhra Railway Station.
The killings triggered protests and riots, for which a local court convicted just 31 people (63 were released) nine years later. Appeals against the conviction – upheld by the Gujarat High Court – are now pending before the Supreme Court.
The inauguration of the temple – being built on land claimed by both Hindus and Muslims but awarded to the former by the Supreme Court in 2019, in a landmark verdict – will take place months before the 2024 general election, at which the BJP, which has championed the building of the temple, will bid for an unprecedented third term in power.
“Don’t Know What Balasaheb Would Have Thought”
Former Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Balasaheb Thackeray – Mr Thackeray’s late father – may feel “… what happened to my child?” “With whose blessings he became a big leader… will he speak like this? The Ram Janmbhoomi movement which Balasaheb blessed? This alliance against PM Modi can go to any limits for votes,” he declared.
#WATCH | On Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray’s remarks on Ram Mandir, BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad says, “…All I would like to say is that this entire alliance, that is against PM Modi, can go to any limit for votes…I would like to pray to Lord Ram to give them some… https://t.co/Zme5rTQMI6pic.twitter.com/54bCbNWkhm
— ANI (@ANI) September 11, 2023
“I would like to pray to Lord Ram to give them (the INDIA opposition alliance) some wisdom.”
Mr Thakur, asked to respond, slammed the Maharashtra politician for being “greedy” and swung the question around to the ongoing row over Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remark on ‘Sanatan Dharm‘.
“I don’t know what Balasaheb (late Shiv Sena founder and Mr Thackeray’s father) would have thought… what is Uddhavji doing for greed of power?” he asked, “Rahulji, Uddhavji didn’t say a word when things were said about Sanatan Dharma.”
The Goa Chief Minister, was asked the same question, and lobbed it back to the press, “I don’t know why (Mr) Thackeray has any apprehension regarding inauguration of Ram temple. You ask him.” He too flagged the ‘Sanatan Dharm’ row in his response, and slammed the INDIA opposition alliance, of which Mr Thackeray’s Sena faction is a part, on the issue.
With input from agencies