The Congress called Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's Ayodhya visit on Sunday, amid the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) rally, a poll gimmick. Senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge questioned why the Sena chief didn't visit the temple town in the last five years. There was high drama in Ayodhya today as Mr Thackeray, his wife and son visited Ram Lalla and later declared that the BJP would not come back to power if it was unable to start the temple construction before the 2019 polls.
"Everyone is going there due to elections. Who stopped Uddhav Thackeray from going there in the past 4-5 years? On one hand, they are friends with the BJP and on the other they want to tell people that they're pressurising the government for the temple. People won't be fooled," Mr Kharge told news agency ANI.
"Everyone remembers Ram when it's time for elections and there is a saying that people remember God when they are in trouble. Now that the BJP is in trouble they are remembering God. They just want to polarise votes," the Congress leader said.
In a veiled attack, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the construction of the Ram temple is "not a political issue" and hoped that the Sena chief's visit to Ayodhya would get him Lord Ram's "blessings". State BJP chief Raosaheb Danve said that the Shiv Sena's stand on Ram temple is not new. "It is not like the Sena has backed the BJP recently," Mr Danve told reporters in Jalna, adding that the "dispute related to temple or mosque is in the court. Hence, despite being in power there are limitations to what a government can do?"
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Saturday slammed the BJP and the Shiv Sena, saying that they are raking up the temple issue ahead of the Lok Sabha polls to divert attention from their failures. "Had their intentions been good they needn't have waited for five years. It's their political tactic, nothing else," she said in a statement.
The VHP's Dharm Sabha concluded in Ayodhya amid tight security. The group had claimed that two lakh people would attend the event but eventually around 50,000 turned up. Amid chants of 'Jai Shree Ram', the seers urged the government to bring an ordinance to speed up the construction of the Ram temple. No resolution was passed and no deadline was given to the government as was earlier claimed by the VHP.