With less than two weeks to go for the Maharashtra elections, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday reiterated his party's demand for a parliamentary legislation to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple at a Dussehra function in Mumbai. "The case for building a Ram temple at Ayodhya has gone on for years, and our party sticks to its demand for a special law to facilitate it. In the same way that Ram left his home to keep a promise, we cannot break our promise to build a temple for him," he said, clarifying that their demand for the religious structure does not arise from political compulsions.
The Shiv Sena chief said that although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised people against commenting on the Ram Mandir issue until the matter is decided in court, it is important to take all possibilities into consideration. "This case has gone on for years. I am sure that we will get justice from the court, but if the verdict does not come in our favour, we will have to look at bringing a special law to build the Ram temple," he told the crowd.
Dussehra celebrates the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king Ravana. The Shiv Sena's event - organised at Shivaji Park- was attended by party leaders Sanjay Raut and Aaditya Thackeray, among others.
Uddhav Thackeray went on to justify his party's decision to align with the BJP for the upcoming assembly elections even though they had been at loggerheads for the greater part of the last five years. "Who says we shouldn't have allied with the BJP? We tied up with them here and the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party formed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. People accepted us but not them," he said, adding that it has joined hands with the BJP for the "Hindutva" cause.
In their seat-sharing arrangement announced on Friday, it was revealed that the Shiv Sena would contest from 124 of the 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra - leaving 164 for the BJP and smaller allies.
Addressing the gathering on Tuesday, Uddhav Thackeray said that both the partners are equally important for the alliance. "We need power no matter what the situation is. We need power to deliver our promises. Yes, we did make the alliance happen, but I don't think the Shiv Sena bent over backwards. In fact, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil requested us to understand their problem," he said, adding that the Shiv Sena "bows only before Chhatrapati Shivaji".
The party chief denied allegations of compromising with its principles to re-align with the BJP against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine. "We have come together to fulfil our promise. We have come together for the Marathas. We have come together for Adivasis and Dhangars. We have come together even for the Muslims because many of them fought alongside Shivaji," he said.
Uddhav Thackeray also prodded Nationalist Congress Party leaders Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar for crying foul over their names cropping up in the alleged Rs 25,000-crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam. "You say it is revenge politics. But you were the ones who made Balasaheb Thackeray appear before a court (over the 1992 Mumbai riots case), and the court threw the case out," he claimed.