Shinde uses Ram Temple visit to target political opponents

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday offered prayers to Ram Lalla in Ayodhya, in a visit that is being widely seen as their attempt to project the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena and BJP as the torch bearers of Hindutva.

While Shinde used his visit to show how he is the real inheritor of the late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, who was passionate about building a Ram temple and removing Article 370 from J&K, Fadnavis claimed that India is already a “Hindu rashtra”.

In a broadside against former Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Shinde claimed he had aborted the cause of the Ram temple and Hindutva by allying with forces that had opposed it. He said that unlike Lord Ram, who went on a 14-year exile to keep his father’s word, Thackeray had gone against his father’s wish (and joined NCP and Congress) for “greed of power”.

The temple visit was not only meant to be a show of strength but also their riposte to the Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena on the issue of Hindutva.

Referring to criticism on the issue of a lot of noise being made about their visit by NCP, Fadnavis said, “Those criticising our visit do not have any faith and, hence, they are criticising. Gandhiji himself spoke about having Ram Rajya, and we have come to take blessings of Lord Rama for that.”

On NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s reported remark that Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Savarkar’s Hindu Rashtra would not be acceptable to them, Fadnavis said, “We are not concerned with what is being said. This country has a majority of Hindus… and whether you call it or not, this is a Hindu rashtra.”

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