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On Uddhav Thackeray's Birthday, Shiv Sena Gives 'Chalo Varanasi, Chalo Ayodhya' Call

The fresh call for Ayodhya and Varanasi signify Sena’s broader shift to a larger electorate in view of the general elections next year.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:July 26, 2018, 2:07 PM IST
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On Uddhav Thackeray's Birthday, Shiv Sena Gives 'Chalo Varanasi, Chalo Ayodhya' Call
File photo of Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
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Mumbai: A day after Uddhav Thackeray expressed desire to go to Varanasi for ‘Ganga pooja’ and visit Ayodhya for the darshan of ‘Ram lalla’, hoardings have come up in Mumbai with the call of ‘Chalo Varanasi, Chalo Ayodhya’.

On Uddhav Thackeray’s birthday, which happens to be today, the banners seem to be a gift from the Shiv Sainiks headed by Shiv Sena Secretary Milind Narvekar.

“It has been 25 years since the call of Ram mandir was given. But nothing has happened on that front till now. Uddhavji plans to go to Varanasi, to Ayodhya. We will see if we can do some kar seva in Ayodhya. Uddhavji will talk about it when he visits Lucknow,” Sanjay Raut said.

The party’s larger strategy seems to be the mobilisation of Hindu votes at the state and the national level, in view of the upcoming 2019 general elections. After targeting the BJP for failing to deliver on the ‘Ram mandir’ promise, the saffron party is now pitching for itself as the flag-bearer of Hindutva.

The Shiv Sena has already given a call for fighting the 2019 polls on its. In an interview to Sena's mouthpiece Saamana, Uddhav supported the idea of one country, one election. He had also called for the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister to stay away from election campaigning.

The fresh call for Ayodhya and Varanasi signify Sena’s broader shift to a larger electorate in view of the general elections next year.

Traditionally, the Shiv Sena has been known to press for ‘sons of the soil’ theory. Through several agitations it held in Mumbai, it stood for job opportunities for the ‘Marathi manoos’. With the changing demographics of the city now, a call for ‘sons of the soil’ may not appeal to the wider electorate.

Coupled with it is the fact that the Sena can no more neglect the Gujarati and North Indian vote bank, which have traditionally voted for its ally BJP. Now that the Shiv Sena intends to fight elections on its own, it will need to pitch for a call that has its resonance across the diverse electorate.

For a ‘pro-Hindutva’ party, the call of ‘Chalo Varanasi, Chalo Ayodhya’, is consistent. This is also akin to challenging Narendra Modi in his own constituency. The Shiv Sena has been in the process of strengthening its base in north India. The party’s outreach program in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, has been well received. The pitch in these states has been ‘pro-Hindutva’.

With the Sena now defining its version of Hindutva as ‘nationalism’, which is broad-minded. It has chided the BJP by speaking against Hindutva that support lynchings. “I don’t approve of the kind of Hindutva that is being practised in India in the last three-four years,” Uddhav had said in his interview to Saamana.


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