Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik on Monday demanded the party president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray be invited as a chief guest for the "bhoomi pujan" ceremony for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month.
Mr Sarnaik, who represents Ovala-Majiwada constituency in Thane, has written a letter to chief trustee of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth KshetraTrust in this regard.
Earlier in the day, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said his party had "laid the road" to the Ram temple and removed the main roadblocks in the run up to its construction "not for politics", but out of faith and for the cause of Hindutva.
"In the backdrop of (COVID-19) pandemic, the function in Ayodhya will be held in the presence of a few invitees. It is learnt that those organisations and political parties which directly or indirectly made efforts for (the temple cause) may be invited for the function," stated Mr Sarnaik's letter, copies of which were made available for media persons.
Mr Sarnaik said Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray was at the forefront of the temple construction movement.
The MLA said Uddhav Thackeray had been repeatedly demanding construction of a Ram temple when no other leader had raised the issue.
It was the Sena which had laid the foundation for the construction of the temple, he stated.
"We are well aware that all ''akhadas'' (ascetic denominations) were fighting for the cause and a protracted legal battle continued for the temple," he said, adding that there is no question of claiming credit over the temple.
Uddhav Thackeray had visited Ayodhya before becoming Chief Minister in last November and also after taking charge of the office.
Mr Sarnaik said no politics should be played over the August 5 ceremony.
Trust president Nritya Gopal Das had said the "bhoomi pujan" will be performed with the placing of a 40-kg silver brick at the sanctum sanctorum.
Three-day-long Vedic rituals, beginning August 3, will precede the main ceremony.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will also join the "bhoomi pujan" ceremony.
"I cannot tell the exact date but we have got information that the PM''s visit has been tentatively scheduled for August 5," Triloki Nath Pandey, the decree holder of the Ram Janmabhoomi mandated by the Supreme Court, had said on Saturday.