UP MP calls meeting of saints to stop Raj Thackeray from entering Ayodhya | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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UP MP calls meeting of saints to stop Raj Thackeray from entering Ayodhya

May 09, 2022 11:44 PM IST

Singh had last week demanded an apology from Raj for his violent campaign against north Indian migrants in 2008.

Mumbai: Amid his tussle with Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray’s impending Ayodhya visit has courted controversy in Uttar Pradesh. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has opposed his visit, called for a meeting of top saints and head priests (Mahants) of all temples in Ayodhya on Tuesday to devise a strategy to stop the MNS chief from entering the city.

MNS leader Manoj Chavan, who is coordinating the event, said Raj Thackeray’s event will happen as per the schedule (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)
MNS leader Manoj Chavan, who is coordinating the event, said Raj Thackeray’s event will happen as per the schedule (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)

Singh had last week demanded an apology from Raj for his violent campaign against north Indian migrants in 2008. He said he would not allow the MNS chief to enter Ayodhya on June 5 even if he apologises.

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“The time for an apology has passed. We are determined to stop him from entering Ayodhya. He will have to change his arrival date (June 5) even if he apologies now,” said Singh.

“We have called a meeting of Mahants of all the temples in Ayodhya to decide on the strategy to deal with Raj Thackeray upon his arrival on June 5. The saints have all decided not to allow him till he apologises,” Singh told the media, adding that over 50,000 people will be attending the meeting.

The 65-year-old, a six-term MP from Kaiserganj in UP, said even Muslims and Maharashtrians are supporting his stance on the premise that Raj wants to use this visit for political gains.

MNS leader Manoj Chavan, who is coordinating the event, said Raj Thackeray’s event will happen as per the schedule. “From our side, there is no change in Rajsaheb’s Ayodhya tour and he will be there on June 5,” said Chavan.

Chavan and his team will leave for Ayodhya after May 16 for final preparations. A hotel in Ayodhya with 34 rooms has been booked.

Thackeray will leave for Ayodhya on June 4 to spend the next day visiting the proposed temple site before returning on June 6. The MNS chief also seeks to call on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath during his visit, but the latter has not confirmed the same.

Meanwhile, in Ayodhya, a poster war erupted between the Shiv Sena and MNS. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son and state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray will arrive on June 10 after his uncle’s visit.

The poster put up by Sena taunted ‘The original is coming. Beware of Duplicate’ where Aaditya is claimed as the original and Raj as duplicate.

In contrast, the MNS poster says ‘Brace for the coronation as the Saffron man is arriving’ referring to Raj as the upholder of the Hindutva cause. According to reports, the local administration in Ayodhya cleared the posters and hoardings.

Following defeats in successive elections, Raj Thackeray adopted hardline Hindutva and announced an agitation demanding the removal of loudspeakers used by mosques for azaan or daily prayer calls. The agitation, however, fizzled out following the police crackdown on MNS rank and file.

Raj has also dumped his anti-North Indian stance and shifted focus to Hindutva to get closer to the BJP in view of the civic polls scheduled across Maharashtra.

After forming the MNS in 2006, Raj Thackeray had adopted a stringent anti-North Indian agenda wherein he blamed the migrants for snatching jobs from local Maharashtrians. This paid him huge dividends in the 2009 parliamentary and assembly polls along with the 2012 civic polls.

The MNS came to power in the Nashik civic body and got 28 corporators in the Mumbai civic body. However, the MNS faced a crushing defeat in the 2014 and 2019 polls which forced him to dump his pet ‘son of soil’ stance.

Meanwhile, Thackeray has warned MNS workers not to talk to the media about his Ayodhya visit. “No one in the party should talk to the media about my visit to Ayodhya. The party has appointed spokespersons who will talk about it. Those who have been given responsibility should also speak responsibly and be aware of the language. Everyone in the party should take what is written seriously,” Thackeray said in a social media post addressed to the party cadre.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Naresh is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, Mumbai, since 2005. He covers the real estate sector, in addition to doing political reportage.

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