Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday for its leaders` pledge to organize trips to Ayodhya once the Ram temple is complete, humorously remarking that the ruling party seems to have established a "tours and travels department."
Thackeray`s comments were triggered by Union Home Minister Amit Shah`s assurance in Madhya Pradesh that the BJP government would arrange a visit to Ayodhya for the state`s residents if the party stays in power. Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar also announced plans for a special train to Ayodhya for Mumbaikars after January 24 next year to visit the newly-constructed Ram temple.
"It appears to me that they have started setting up a tours and travels department... Elections should be contested based on the work you have done. Why are they luring voters with the promise of `darshan` at the Ram temple?" Thackeray told reporters during his visit to Thane.
He further questioned the timing of the Maratha quota issue, suggesting that there may be ulterior motives behind activist Manoj Jarange`s protest. Thackeray expressed skepticism about the feasibility of Maratha reservation and hinted at potential external influences manipulating caste politics in the run-up to elections.
Jarange, who recently ended his hunger strike for Maratha quota demands in Jalna district, has set a deadline of December 24 for the government to implement reservation for his community.
Thackeray also accused the ruling parties, particularly the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) since its founding in 1999, of fueling caste politics and discord among different caste groups in the state. He criticized the diversion of voter attention by political parties ahead of elections, emphasizing the consequences for voters when the wrong candidates are elected.
"While nobody remains in power forever, political parties and candidates often take voters for granted. Voters should not only be educated but also wise in choosing the right candidates," Thackeray asserted.
Addressing his party`s opposition to toll collection on roads, Thackeray mentioned that he is waiting for the Diwali festival to conclude before holding a meeting with relevant parties to prepare a roadmap for their stance.
Referring to the Supreme Court`s directive for shopkeepers in Mumbai to install new Marathi signboards, Thackeray criticized the state government for not promptly implementing the order passed in the last week of September.
"The MNS had approached the court on the issue of Marathi signboards, and I am surprised that a section of traders went to court against the decision. I thank the Supreme Court for emphasizing the importance of respecting the native language of the state," he concluded.