On Sunday, Uddhav Thackeray, the chief of Shiv Sena (UBT), expressed concerns about the possibility of a "Godhra-like" incident occurring during the return journey of a significant number of individuals expected to gather in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, from all over the country for the inauguration of the Ram Temple.
He drew parallels to the tragic event in Godhra, Gujarat, on February 27, 2002, when 'Karsevaks' (volunteers associated with the Ram temple movement) returning from Ayodhya aboard the Sabarmati Express were attacked, and their train coach was set on fire. This incident resulted in multiple fatalities and sparked widespread riots in the state.
Thackeray, speaking in Jalgaon, approximately 400 kilometers from his location, raised concerns that the government might invite a large number of people for the Ram Temple inauguration using buses and trucks. He suggested that a similar incident to the one in Godhra could occur during their return journey.
The inauguration of the Ram Temple is expected to take place in January 2024, just months before the Lok Sabha elections.
Furthermore, Thackeray criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for lacking iconic figures that people can admire. He accused them of appropriating the legacies of leaders like Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Thackeray noted that they were now attempting to lay claim to his father Bal Thackeray's legacy. He argued that the BJP and RSS have not accomplished significant achievements themselves and emphasized that the greatness of figures like Sardar Patel should be measured by their achievements, not the size of statues.
According to Thackeray, the individuals associated with the BJP and RSS do not come close to achieving the stature of Sardar Patel. He has been a target of criticism from the BJP for departing from the ideals of Bal Thackeray in order to become chief minister by forming alliances with the Congress and NCP after the 2019 Assembly polls.
The criticism has become more pronounced since the Shiv Sena split in June of the previous year, with both factions claiming to be the true heirs of the party founder's legacy. The BJP and the Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde assert that they are the authentic champions of Bal Thackeray's Hindutva ideology.