Editorial: Ayodhya dilemma for Uddhav

Editorial: Ayodhya dilemma for Uddhav

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, January 12, 2024, 11:15 PM IST
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Image of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya | File Photo

Uddhav Thackeray, leader of a faction of the Shiv Sena which was once a belligerent Hindutva party, will not be in Ayodhya for the consecration of the Ram Mandir on January 22 because he has not been invited to it. This has led to a row between his chief lieutenant Sanjay Raut and BJP’s leaders. On his part, Thackeray declared that he will head to Nashik that day to perform a maha-arati on the banks of River Godavari and pay his obeisance to Lord Ram at the iconic Kalaram temple.

This drama has inescapable political undertones. Thackeray and the rank-and-file of Shiv Sena are bristling at being pointedly overlooked for the consecration ceremony, especially because the late Bal Thackeray, as the party chief, was the first leader of significance to own up the role of his foot soldiers, when BJP’s leaders were dithering over the role of the party’s cadres and Sangh Parivar outfits in the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, on the debris of which the new temple stands. Uddhav was then a bystander but even he will find it hard to stomach the irony; Thackeray’s boys, familial and political, are forgotten as the controversial and fractious movement for the mandir reaches its apogee. The leader of the movement, LK Advani, has been left out of the ceremony too. The late Thackeray was debarred from electoral politics for his Hindutva utterances.

This is the BJP’s way of extracting a price for Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to ditch it in to form a three-way alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in 2019. The alliance put Thackeray between a rock and hard place — he and his faction of the Sena cannot claim to be Hindutva as belligerently as his father used to because of his new allies but he cannot lay claim to secular non-Hindutva politics either because that would divest a core element of the Sena’s identity. In a sense, the non-invitation has laid bare the internal fissure, a fracture really, within Thackeray’s Sena — something he has refused to comprehensively address in the last four-five years. On the eve of another general election, he is being asked core and difficult questions. And he has few answers.

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