Mumbai: After the Shiv Sena’s rally in Ayodhya last month to press for the construction of Ram temple, party chief Uddhav Thackeray is now slated to hold a massive Dharma Sabha in Maharashtra’s pilgrimage town of Pandharpur on Monday.
Unlike the rally in Ayodhya, the Pandharpur rally is expected to have women in attendance, as well members of the youth wing.
“We did not want large number of Shiv Sainiks to come to Ayodhya. But Sainiks from across the state will come to Pandharpur,” a senior Shiv Sena leader told News18. Around three lakh people are expected to attend the rally.
“For us, Ram Mandir isn't an election issue. After Uddhavji's Ayodhya rally, there is lot of excitement and curiosity in Maharashtra. Pandharpur is also called Dakshin Kashi. That is the importance of the city. Vithoba-Rakhumai are the deities of the working class, farmers and labourers. We are going to seek blessings from the deity," Sanjay Raut, senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member, told News18 from Pandharpur.
Uddhav Thackeray’s Dharma Sabha is being seen as the party’s show of strength. The political mobilisation around the Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya was considered to be a success by the party as other Right-wing groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad followed Sena’s footsteps and organized similar Dharma Sabhas. The Shiv Sena sees this as a trend-setting move which will force the RSS to take up the issue of Ram Mandir with the BJP leadership.
The Sena is looking ahead to use the same tempo to gather support for the upcoming elections.
In the Pandharpur rally, Uddhav Thackeray is likely to not just raise the Hindutva pitch but to also send out a message to the BJP over the delay in the construction of Ram temple.
"We are excited about the rally. Last time we were asked to stay back and not to travel to Ayodhya. But that is not the case this time. There is mobilisation at district level," a Shiv Sainik from Latur told News18.
The Sena also has a strong youth wing and a women's wing. The youth wing is led by Uddhav Thackeray's son Aditya Thackeray. Both the wings have strong presence across several districts.