Lucknow: The scope of Uddhav Thackeray’s much-hyped Ayodhya visit has been curtailed by the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh as the administration has refused the Shiv Sena chief permission to hold any public gatherings.
According to sources, the administration, while denying permission for the November 24 rally, said the venue – Ram Katha Park – was too close to the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site and it fears any caustic remarks on Ram Mandir could stoke tensions in the sensitive area.
The Shiv Sena has now been asked to shift the programme to Gulab Bari, which is several kilometers away from the disputed site. Unhappy with the suggestion, Thackeray is unlikely to hold any public meetings during his Ayodhya visit and would stick to just meeting influential seers and religious leaders, sources said.
The denial of permission comes as the two allies - Shiv Sena and BJP - are looking at the Ram temple issue to outdo each other in proving who’s “more Hindu” ahead of the general elections.
Sources said that the Sena wants to make its presence felt in Uttar Pradesh and win over those disgruntled Hindus who are upset with the BJP. It also plans to contest Lok Sabha elections from select seats in the state.
Although Sena’s new-found aggression may not be that big of a threat to the BJP outside Maharashtra, political experts opined that it can clearly embarrass the saffron party as far as its commitment to the cause of Hindutva is concerned.
Shiv Sena is also peeved that Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s own show of strength in Ayodhya has been backed by the BJP and RSS despite it clashing with Thackeray’s visit.
“We are being troubled by the administration. We have not been given permission to hold a rally in Ayodhya city. On the other hand, the BJP supported VHP/RSS Dharm Sabha on November 25 is facing no such issues,” said Shiv Sena's UP president Anil Singh.
Sources also told News18 that the BJP has given clear instruction to its MPs, MLAs and organisational leaders to ensure mobilisation for the VHP event. Not just in terms of numbers, but in the battle of perception, too, the BJP wants to ensure an edge for it.
Party leader and Thackeray’s close aide Sanjay Raut, however, denied seeking permission for holding any public gathering. He said Thackeray will reach Ayodhya on November 24 and will felicitate seers and religious leaders at Laxman Kila and will participate in Saryu Aarti. The next day he will be visit Ram Lala and hold a press conference.
Chief of Ram Janambhumi Nyas, Mahant Nrtiya Gopal Das, meanwhile said that he will not be a part of Thackeray’s meeting with seers.