'Maha-aartis' in Maharashtra as Thackeray, family visit Ayodhya (Lead)
Mumbai : Coinciding with Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray's high-profile visit to Ayodhya on Saturday, party activists and leaders performed 'maha-aartis' in different parts of the state and prayed for the success of the Ram temple construction mission.
A 'maha-aarti' was held at the famed Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Mumbai this evening, besides other parts of the city, in Thane, Ragnagiri, Raigad, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, and Kolhapur, led by party leaders, legislators, ministers and parliamentarians.
Mumbai's dabbawallas also participated in the 'maha-aarti' performed at the Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Dadar, said their spokesperson Subhash Talekar.
Thundering in Ayodhya, Thackeray demanded that the ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party should declare the "date" when the Ram Temple will be constructed in Ayodhya.
"The Hindus of the country will not remain silent any longer -- they will ask questions 'tell us the date when you will construct the Ram temple'. I have come to take the exact date from you," he said, firing a fresh salvo at the BJP.
He reiterated the party's recent slogan 'Har Hindu ki yehi pukar, Pehle mandir phir sarkar' and said he had come for his first darshan of Ram Lalla, and promised to come again in future.
"I have not come here to grab the credit for the Ram temple, but awaken the slumbering Kumbhkarnaa who slept for six months, this one (indicating the BJP-led government) has been sleeping for four years. The promises made must be fulfilled, that's the real Hindutva for us", Thackeray said.
Meanwhile, commenting on Thackeray's visit, Maharashtra BJP's Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar welcomed it saying there is "nothing wrong if he has gone there for a good cause like the Ram temple".
However, the Raj Thackeray-led opposition Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, mocked at his cousin's Ayodhya visit by putting up posters near the Sena headquarters, saying: "Gone to Ayodhya, but resignation still in pocket".
This implied the MNS' oft-repeated stance that the Shiv Sena must dare to quit the NDA at the centre and state instead of functioning like an embedded opposition party.
For the Ayodhya visit, Thackeray is carrying an urn containing the earth from the Shivneri Fort - the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Pune district of Maharashtra.
Over 4,000 Shiv Sainiks from Maharashtra and other parts of the country have already proceeded to Ayodhya, a party spokesperson said.
Party leaders including Sanjay Raut, Minister Eknath Shinde, Rajan Vichare, Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar and others have been camping in Ayodhya for the past few days to prepare for the Thackeray visit.