Nagpur, MAHARASHTRA: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday expressed happiness over the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Temple issue and congratulated everyone who participated in the movement for the temple, including L.K.Advani, Ashok Singhal, Pramod Mahajan, Gopinath Munde and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
But Thackeray, who is engaged in a stalemate with former ally BJP in Maharashtra over power-sharing in the state, did not mention the party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the RSS, which claims to have led the agitation over this issue.
“November 9 will be written in golden words in history. A dispute of many years has been resolved. I salute the judiciary. I am happy that the dispute regarding Lord Ram’s birthplace has ended. I also thank everyone for accepting this verdict. Today, everyone would have recollected the entire period of this struggle and everyone will be remembering Shiv Sena Pramukh (Bal Thackeray) who raised Hindutva when people were scared to call themselves Hindu,” Thackeray said in a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan in Mumbai.
On Saturday, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, in a unanimous judgement, granted the site of the demolished Babri Masjid to the Hindu parties to build a temple, while ordering that the Muslim litigants be given a 5 acre alternative site to construct a mosque.
The Sena chief said he will soon meet Advani, who spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the late 80s. The BJP leader had organised a rath yatra in 1990 demanding a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, which culminated in kar sevaks demolishing the Babri Masjid on 6 December, 1992.
On Friday, Thackeray had said that the credit for the Ram Temple verdict should be given to the judiciary and not to the BJP, with whom his party is locked in a war of words in Maharashtra.
“I am personally happy. Last year on November 24, I had gone to Ayodhya and prayed there. I had taken some soil from King Shivaji’s birthplace to Ayodhya. I am happy that within a year (of my visit) this verdict has come. In the next two-three days again I will again go to Shivneri (Shivaji’s birthplace) and I am going to Ayodhya on November 24 again. Beliefs and feelings of lakhs of Hindus have been given justice today. I have asked everyone to celebrate graciously. A new era has started, let’s welcome it with grace,” he added.
The Shiv Sena had raised the issue of building the temple ahead of the Lok Sabha election as well, and had reacted to the verdict saying “Temple first, Government Later”.
Thackeray refused to comment on the deadlock in Maharashtra, saying “let’s not talk about politics today. Today’s day is of joy. Let’s celebrate and enjoy today.”
He also took another dig at the BJP, saying that “parties which actually practice Hindutva should come together, not those who do lip service to it”.
Constitutional law expert Faizan Mustafa told HuffPost India on Saturday that the court seemed to have prioritised the religious beliefs of one section over the rule of law.
“The court while pronouncing the judgement did try its best to strike a balance between law and faith. But clearly faith has the last laugh here,” he said.