Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has made it clear that he will not visit Ayodhya for the consecration (Pran Pratishtha) ceremony of Lord Ram on January 22 (Monday). Instead he said that he plans to take his entire cabinet as well as MLAs and MPs from the state for ‘darshan’ at Ram Mandir later.
“Instead of a handful of people attending the consecration ceremony at Ayodhya, I would like to take all state cabinet members as well as MLAs and MPs later,” Shinde said on Saturday.
“The temple is about our faith and pride. I would also like to take officials and devotees to the Ram Temple,” he added.
Later, the CM shared a post on X thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘fulfilling’ the dream of Shiv Sena found Balasaheb Thackeray and crores of Indians to build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
“The consecration of the idol of Lord Ram is taking place in Ayodhya on Monday. We have received the invitation for this historic and spectacular event. However, instead of only three of us – me and deputy chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar – witnessing this unprecedented occasion, which is truly a proud moment for countrymen, we will take the entire cabinet, MPs, MLAs, public representatives and devotees in the state for the ‘darshan’ of Prabhu Shriram. The date and timing of Ayodhya darshan will be decided soon,” Shinde said in his post.
DCM Fadnavis too said in Nagpur that he would visit Ayodhya in February for ‘Ram seva.’
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (UBT) has been fuming over the manner in which the party chief Uddhav Thackeray was invited for the consecration ceremony via invitation sent by a speed post. Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut objected to the ‘manner’ of invitation to the Thackeray family while film stars were given personal invitations.
Raut said, “You are giving a special invitation to the celebrities and film stars. They had nothing to do with Ram Janmabhoomi. But you are treating the Thackeray family this way? The Thackeray family had played a major and important role in the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. Lord Ram will not forgive you and will curse you for this. You are praying to Lord Ram but running the government like Ravana.”
Thackeray has already announced that he and his party leaders will visit Kalaram temple in Nashik on January 22 and perform a ‘Maha Aarti’ on the Godavari river bank.
“The consecration of Ayodhya Ram temple is a matter of pride and self-respect. On that day (January 22), we will visit the Kalaram temple where Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and (social reformer) Sane Guruji had staged protests. We will also hold a Maha Aarti on the banks of the Godavari river,” Thackeray had said.
The Kalaram temple, located in the Panchavati area of Nashik, is dedicated to Lord Ram. The temple derives its name from the idol of Lord Ram carved out of black stone. It is believed that Lord Ram stayed in Panchavati with wife Sita and his brother Lakshman during their exile.
In 1930, Dr Ambedkar led a protest at the Kalaram temple to seek the entry of Dalits into the temple.
While invitation to Thackeray was sent by speed post, his bete noire CM Shinde had received the invitation from the Ram Mandir Trust for the consecration ceremony. Shinde was given the invitation by RSS and VHP office bearers who handed over the invitation at CM’s residence in Thane.