Ram Temple inauguration cannot be a political event, but a matter of pride for crores of devotees, says CM Eknath Shinde

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde takes part in a cleanliness drive in the Wagle Estate area, in Thane on Saturday.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde takes part in a cleanliness drive in the Wagle Estate area, in Thane on Saturday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Launching a blistering attack on former Chief Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday said that the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22 could not be a political event as it was a matter of faith for crores of people, and warned that those making such statements would be given a fitting reply by the electorate.

Speaking during a cleanliness drive in Mumbai, Mr. Shinde thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for fulfilling the dreams of crores of Indians by getting the Ram Mandir built, while remarking that it had been a dream of late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray to see the temple to Lord Rama be built in Ayodhya.

Taking a thinly-veiled jibe at Mr. Thackeray without naming him, Mr. Shinde, who heads the rival Shiv Sena faction, said: “The consecration of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya is a matter of faith and pride for crores of Ram bhakts [devotees]. It cannot be a political event. If someone says otherwise, crores of devotees will give that person a fitting reply through elections…He [Mr. Thackeray] already sits at home. Now the electorate will ensure he permanently keeps sitting at home. So, he better think before making statements.”

Celebrations across Mumbai

The Chief Minister further said he had directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner to ensure Diwali-like celebrations across Mumbai city during the Ram Temple inauguration on January 22.

“Let all temples and buildings in Mumbai be illuminated with decorative lights. All of Maharashtra should celebrate on January 22 with Diwali-like enthusiasm,” Mr. Shinde said.

Lauding Mr. Modi and his leadership, Mr. Shinde said that whatever Mr. Modi said, he ensured to translate that into reality.

“Modiji turned the dream of building the Ram temple into reality. Whatever he says, he ensures that it happens. Be it railways or airports, he implements his promises. As a result, everyone accepts Mr. Modi’s guarantees,” Mr. Shinde said.

Taking potshots at the Opposition INDIA bloc, he said that the recent Assembly election results to the key States of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had proved that there was only “one guarantee today” and that was Mr. Modi.

Deep-cleaning initiatives in Mumbai

Mr. Shinde participated in one of the deep-cleaning initiatives that were being undertaken at 10 places in Mumbai as part of the government’s ongoing drive to reduce air pollution in the capital.

Underscoring the importance of the cleanliness campaign, Mr. Shinde said his government was also encouraging road repairs as part of this drive.

“We have used recycled, and not potable, water for deep-cleaning. We are mobilising manpower and machinery on a big scale. Also, if there are some empty plots, then concepts like an urban forest can be implemented there…we need to take this cleanliness drive to all parts of the states. All municipal corporations, councils and small towns will be implementing it and competitions will be organised among different self-governing bodies,” he said.

Targeting Mr. Thackeray’s Sena (UBT), particularly former Minister Aaditya Thackeray, for pooh-poohing the cleanliness drive, Mr. Shinde said it was not some photo-op session as claimed by detractors.

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a broom in his hand [as part of a cleanliness drive], people criticised it as a photo-op. But people now realise the importance of what he started in 2015. Similarly, some people keep talking nonsense about our cleanliness drive, calling it a ‘photo session’. Let me tell them that this is a cleanliness mission, not some photo session,” Mr. Shinde said, expressing hope that Mumbai would soon be pollution and pothole-free through this initiative.

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