Trip to Ayodhya canceled as trap set for me, MNS leader Raj Thackeray told rally in Pune

Two days after he canceled his proposed visit to AyodhyaMaharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray claimed on Sunday that he was forced into the decision due to a ‘trap’ set for him and his staff ahead of the election season in Maharashtra.

“Those who were shaken by my announcement to visit Ayodhya were planning to set a trap…” the MNS leader said during a morning rally outside the overflowing Ganesh Kala Kridha Manch in the city of Pune. Elections to 14 municipal corporations, 25 zilla parishads and dozens of gram panchayats are overdue in Maharashtra.

“When I tweeted that my visit to Ayodhya was suspended for the time being, many didn’t like it, some took potshots. I allowed some people to continue talking about it for two days, after which I decided to clarify my position vis-a-vis Maharashtra and the country,” he said.

Setting the record straight, Raj Thackeray said: “On the day I made the announcement about the removal of loudspeakers from mosques, I also announced that I would be visiting Ayodhya. After that, a lot happened. It was said that I would not be allowed to enter Ayodhya. I was watching all this…I was getting information from Mumbai, Delhi and even Uttar Pradesh…People were telling me exactly what was going on. Then I realized it was a trap… I shouldn’t get trapped… It all started in Maharashtra, it was all about Maharashtra.

Recalling the razing of the Babri Masjid, the head of the MNS said, “After kar sevaks from all over the country who went to Ayodhya were killed, I had seen the images of their bodies floating in the Sharayu river on Doordarshan . I wanted to go to Ayodhya not only to have Ram Janmabhoomi’s darshan, but I also wanted to visit the place where the kar sevaks were killed and have darshan.

Raj said that if he had decided to continue visiting Ayodhya, MNS workers and many Hindus would have followed him. “If something had happened, our boys would have fought back. Then they would have beaten our workers and our leaders who would have been imprisoned. They would have been caught up in legal entanglements. All of this would have happened right at the time of the elections in the state… All of this was a trap. I didn’t want to lose my boys at election time, I didn’t want to lose my strength…I was ready for abuse, I was ready to face criticism, that’s why I canceled the visit. ‘Ayodhya for now,’ he said.

Backing up his claim, Raj said, “An MP (Brij Bhushan Singh) stands up and challenges the (UP) Chief Minister. It’s possible? There are many nuances to this…” Singh had threatened to bar Raj Thackeray from entering Ayodhya unless he apologized for the attack on North Indians in Mumbai in 2008.

The head of the MNS said he was asked to apologize for what happened 14 years ago. “Are you waking up now… after 14 years? You are setting a bad precedent. If I have to apologize then who will apologize for the 2017 incident that took place in Gujarat. Thousands of Indians from northern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been asked to leave Gujarat after a rape incident there. They all came to Mumbai and then returned home. Who will say sorry for this, ”he asked, urging the crowd to understand the politics behind it all. “Those who have been shaken by my position on the loudspeakers and Hindutva are doing all of this,” he pointed out.

Referring to Independent MP Navneet Rana and her MP husband Ravi Rana, he said, “They decided to hold Hanuman Chalisa in front of Matoshree… Is Matoshree a mosque?… I had said that Hanuman Chalisa should be recited in front of mosques where loudspeakers flout the rules.”

Raj said Shiv Sainiks and their officials should try to figure out what is going on. “After holding Hindutva sermons in Mumbai, they go to Ladakh and eat together and take pictures… It’s all dramatic,” he said. He was referring to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut who met the Ranas during a planned visit to Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. Raut and Navneet Rana were part of the permanent parliamentary commissions sent to examine the functioning of the ministries.

Attacking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the MNS leader said: “What kind of childish behavior is that? My Hindutva is real and yours is fake… It’s like saying, meri kameez teri kameez se safed kaise (How come your shirt is brighter than mine)? Is Hindutva washing powder? Hindus want results, which we give them. We are Marathi manoos, we believe in results.

Responding to the Chief Minister’s claims that he left all his hustle midway, Raj Thackeray said he took all his hustle to their logical conclusion. “The current loudspeaker agitation has achieved 92-94% success. The agitation to demand the closure of naka tolls has seen 64-70 of them closed in the state. We have successfully stopped the looting people. After our agitation against Pakistani artists in Bollywood, they were driven out of the country. Even when our police officers were beaten by outside Muslims during the agitation at Raza Academy in Mumbai, this are the MNS who came to their rescue.

He asked the Chief Minister: “Are you facing a single case related to unrest?… He does not want to take a stand.

Regarding the renaming of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar, Raj Thackeray said: “The Chief Minister says the renaming has already happened… Who are you? Are you Vallabhai Pant or Mahatma Gandhi…” He said the real issues are deflected. “Places like Aurangabad and Jalna have no water for 10 days, but these topics are never discussed,” he said.

The MNS leader urged the prime minister to introduce a common civil code and population control law, in addition to renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar.

Slamming NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Raj Thackeray added: “Sharad Pawar probably thinks Aurangzeb was a Sufi saint; Afzal Khan came for the purpose of expansion…Pawar twists history to suit his political convenience. He said a Shiv Sena MP lost the election in 2019 to a MIM candidate. “The Sena is not even ashamed,” he said.

Without naming Aditya Thackeray, he continued: “Someone said that Balasaheb would have been happy to see the Sena part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). By doing this, the Sena only raises a question mark over the credibility of Sena’s supremo. Aditya had made the comment on Friday.

Raj Thackeray revealed that around 28,000 notices were sent to MNS workers for their agitation against loudspeakers. “But those who blare the loudspeakers, they are called for discussions.”

The head of the MNS said that although the problem with the loudspeakers has ceased for now, they will have to remain on alert. “The howling of mosque loudspeakers has diminished. But we must not be quiet. We must be on our guard lest they re-ignite the problem step by step,” he said.

Thackeray also revealed that he will undergo surgery for his hip bone condition on June 1. “After that, I will need time to recover. And then I will come to you again,” he said, before telling MNS workers that he would give them a letter that would have to be taken to every household in the state.

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