The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) oldest ally Shiv Sena is eying to expand its network outside Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena, which soared to the length and breadth of Maharashtra on pro-Maratha and Hindutva sentiments, is all set to make an entry into the larger national political landscape via Uttar Pradesh. Sena pramukh Uddhav Thackeray, who turned 58 on Thursday, is set to soon visit the twin temples towns of the state – Ayodhya and Varanasi — ahead of the general elections.
Shiv Sena hoardings with slogans reading “Chalo Ayodhya Chalo Varanasi” – the two temples towns of Uttar Pradesh where Yogi Adityanath is heading the BJP government — have appeared in Mumbai. It should be noted that Sena has always supported the construction of a grand Ram Mandir at the site of the now-demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. But for the past few months, the party has targeted the BJP for not fulfilling its over two decades old promise.
The hoardings carry the picture of party secretary Milind Narvekar. The leader says that he is just forwarding the message of party supremo Uddhav. If Uddhav travels to the two cities, it will be his first visit to the most populous state of the country. Reports say that the party is planning to make Uddhav’s Uttar Pradesh trip an event to remember.
The Sena pramukh, according to reports, will first visit Ayodhya where he will also address a rally. Later, he will travel to Varanasi, the oldest living city in the world and also the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During his stay here, Uddhav is expected to participate in the Ganga aarti which attracts thousands of visitors daily. He will also offer prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
“It’s a small event. There’s nothing more to it,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
In a recent interview to Raut, the executive editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamna, Uddhav made a mention of his wish to visit Ayodhya and Varanasi. He had also said that the BJP will again reignite the Ram Mandir issue ahead of the 2019 polls and noted that people always wanted his father and late party chief Bal Thackeray to visit Ayodhya.