Mumbai: Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde along with Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs left for Ayodhya on a flight from Mumbai to Lucknow, UP on Saturday.
CM Shinde who is on his maiden visit to Ayodhya after taking charge as Maharashtra chief minister in June 2022 and after the Election Commission recognised the faction led by him as Shiv Sena and allotted it the "bow and arrow" poll symbol, will offer his prayers to Lord Ram.
In a video, Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs, and leaders of ally BJP are seen onboard a flight. They hail Lord Ram's name along with several other gods and goddesses in great enthusiasm.
Watch video here:
'Maha aarti' in Ayodhya
Shinde will travel to Ayodhya from Lucknow on Sunday afternoon and perform a 'maha aarti' at the under-construction Ram temple with others and later at the Sharayu river in the evening. He is also scheduled to visit the ongoing construction of the Ram temple and will address a press conference in Ayodhya on Sunday afternoon. He will return to Mumbai on Sunday night, as per his aides.
Speaking to reporters at the Mumbai airport, the chief minister said he would respond to criticism of his Ayodhya visit through his work.
"It is good that because of our work, those who never ventured out of their homes are going out to meet people,'' he said in a veiled swipe at Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
"Ayodhya is a matter of faith for us. I thank PM Modi for expediting the construction of Ram temple,'' said Shinde who shares power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.
Last November, Shinde and his loyalists paid a "gratitude visit" to the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
Ajit Pawar slams Shinde
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar has slammed the "publicity" around the Ayodhya visit of Shinde and also ridiculed relentless media updates on the latter's programme there.
"When I offer prayers anywhere, I do not create such publicity. The chief minister is visiting there to seek blessings," he told reporters.
The former Maharashtra deputy chief minister also said there are pressing issues related to unemployment, crime, and farmers' distress that require more attention.
A special train carrying activists of Shiv Sena to Ayodhya left Thane railway station on Friday evening amidst slogans of Jai Shri Ram.
(with PTI inputs)
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