Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray would be visiting Ayodhya with all the 18 Lok Sabha MPs of the party before the beginning of the monsoon session of Parliament, sources said Wednesday.
Thackeray had visited Ayodhya in November last year and demanded that Ram temple be constructed at the disputed site before the Lok Sabha elections.
He had uttered a phrase to pressurise the then NDA government, "Har Hindu ki yahi pukar, pehle mandir fir Sarkar, (Every Hindu has one demand, the temple first and then government)."
The ties between the Sena and its ally BJP were under strain then. The Sena later once again stitched up an alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls, but maintained that Ram temple was an important issue for it.
When contacted, Harshal Pradhan, a close aide of Uddhav Thackeray and media in-charge of the Sena, said, "It is true that Thackeray has decided to visit Ayodhya. The plan is to visit before the parliament session starts on June 17.
"There will be an announcement about the visit soon. Uddhav-ji will elaborate on the visit and the party's stand," he said.
The Maharashtra assembly elections are set to be held in October 2019 for 288 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. Though Shiv Sena and BJP have been allies at the Centre in the past, their alliance at the state level has been rocky.
In 2014, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance had split for the state polls owing to seat-sharing issues. BJP chief Amit Shah brought back Shiv Sena in the NDA fold after several rounds negotiations.
About the Ayodhya dispute:
A five-judge Constitution bench on May 10 passed an order allowing the three-member mediation panel for the Ayodhya dispute case an extension of time till August 15 to submit its report.
The Supreme Court had on March 8 ordered a time-bound 8-week mediation into the decades-old Ayodhya dispute, appointing a three-member panel and setting Faizabad as the location where the mediation would be held. The three-member panel include retired Supreme Court Justice Kalifulla, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Sriram Panchu.
The apex court decision had come after much delay during which several pro-Mandir groups such as the VHP, as well as political parties such as the Shiv Sena demanded that teh Ayodhya issue be settled through an Ordinance brought by the government.
READ | Supreme Court Extends Time For The Ayodhya Mediation. Gives The 3-member Panel Time Till 15 August To Complete The Process.