Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on April 9 reached Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to offer prayers to Lord Ram along with thousands of Shiv Sena MPs, MLAs and workers. It’s Shinde’s first Ayodhya visit after becoming the Maharashtra Chief Minister in June 2022, and the election commission recognised his faction as Shiv Sena and alloting it the party’s "bow and arrow" electoral emblem.
According to reports, he will perform ‘Maha Aarti’ along with his Deputy Devendra Fadnavis and other Shiv Sainiks at the Ram temple which is undergoing construction. He will also pay a visit to the Ram temple building site and the Sharayu River in the evening.
Shinde landed in Lucknow late on April 8 and asserted, “This is not a political visit, I keep visiting Ayodhya but this is the first time I've come here as a CM. All party leaders wanted to take blessings from Lord Ram. I want to thank Yogi ji & his ministers who were present here to welcome us.” He had also flagged off a special train carrying his party workers from Maharashtra’s Thane to temple town in Uttar Pradesh on April 7.
Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde’s Ayodhya visit is viewed as a fresh move to muscle into the proprietary claim made by the Uddhav Thackeray faction on the political legacy of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Ayodhya has been a place of utmost faith for the Shiv Sena camp where Bal Thackeray wished to see a grand Lord Ram Temple.
When BJP leaders and other independent activists shied away to hold the accountability of Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, it was Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who said that if Shiv Sena workers are involved in the demolition of the mosque, then he is very happy. Shinde, who claims to be one of the true followers of Bal Thackeray and his ideology, knows well the importance of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
A year ago when Shiv Sena was united, it was only Eknath Shinde who organised the Ayodhya visit trip for Uddhav and Aditya Thackeray. All the Maharashtra MLAs who are now on the side of the Shinde faction wanted to visit the temple along with Uddhav Thackeray. However, he denied permission citing trouble in respective constituencies if every legislator leaves the state.