Sena plans to corner BJP on Ram temple promise

Sena plans to corner BJP on Ram temple promise

By VINAYA DESHPANDE | MUMBAI | 6 December, 2015
(L-R) Uddhav Thackeray & Devendra Fadnavis

“Mandir wahin banaenge, taareekh kab bataenge? (When will you finally tell the date when you will build the promised temple?)”, is the question Shiv Sena will ask its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today. Marking 6 December as Sankalp Diwas, the BJP’s ally in Maharashtra plans to corner the national party over its promise of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. Also on cards is a rathyatra in Uttar Pradesh to be held in January next year.
“We will put up banners in the north Indian states, posing this question to the BJP. Also, our Uttar Pradesh and Bihar units will mark Sankalp Diwas by taking an oath to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya. On 23 January, we will start a rathyatra in Uttar Pradesh to awaken Hindus and to mount political pressure on the government,” Vinay Shukla, North India in-charge of Sena, told The Sunday Guardian. He has the responsibility of Sena affairs in six states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
The Sena has units in 52 districts in Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, it has 75 district units.
Sena leaders say that the BJP seems to have forgotten its promise of building a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. “Since the Babri Masjid was demolished on 6 December 1992, the Shiv Sena has always marked the day as a day of courage. But this is the first time we will mark it as Sankalp Diwas. This means, we are duty-bound by the mandate given by the people of India to build a Ram temple there,” Shukla said.
The Sena has been taking an antagonistic stand against the BJP both in Maharashtra and at the Centre. “We are showing the mirror to the government. We will not sit quietly in power to enjoy the fruits of government. We have to ensure that the government reaches out to the people and fulfils its promises,” Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said during the launch of the report cards of Sena ministers in the Maharashtra government.
At a separate function held at Ravindra Natya Mandir here, the Shiv Sena celebrated its completion of one year in the Maharashtra government. It was last month that the Maharashtra government completed one year in office. But in this separate function this week in Mumbai, Uddhav Thackeray indicated that the Sena would leave the alliance. He declared that the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra would be a Shiv Sainik. “He will be polite, people-friendly. He will move around in the state. He won’t roam outside the state (with reference to Devendra Fadnavis’ foreign visits),” he said.

The Shiv Sena leaders said the BJP needs to at least start a dialogue on the way ahead for a Ram temple. “Engage with the people. Ask them if there is any solution to the issue. Ask them what they want. You cannot just say that the matter is sub-judice. An out-of-court settlement is always possible. Start the dialogue process at least. Be honest. If you can talk with Pakistan to fight terrorism, then why not talk to your own countrymen and women about the temple issue?” Shukla asked.
The Sena has asked why the BJP has changed its stance on the matter. Pointing out that the Prime Minister had said that the temple issue can wait until 2019, the leaders asked why temple and development cannot go hand in hand. “Why does the temple issue have to wait till the 2019 Parliamentary elections? What if you are not voted to power after that? Right now, you are in power, talk about it. Will constructing the temple hurt the country’s development? These are two different and unrelated things. The BJP should realise that it has won the people’s mandate due to the promises it has made. Now is the time to deliver on these promises,” Shukla said.
The party has said that since the BJP has failed to deliver, it will go to the people of Uttar Pradesh and ask if they want a temple in the state.

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