Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will be skipping Ayodhya’s famous ‘Arti’ due to Coronavirus scare during his visit to the religious city on Saturday.
The Shiv Sena chief is visiting the city to mark 100 days of his newly-formed government in Maharashtra.
Earlier, Mr Thackeray was scheduled to visit the makeshift temple of Lord Ram in Ayodhya and then attend the evening ‘Arti’ on the banks of the Saryu river.
Speaking to media, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the visit has been curtailed in the wake of the health advisories issued by the government.
“I met with chief minister Adityanath on Thursday. Even the Prime Minister has advised against large gatherings. I spoke to Uddhav ji and he said we should follow whatever advisories the government is giving out. So we have cancelled our attendance at the arti,” Mr Thackeray said in Ayodhya.
This will be Mr Thackeray’s first visit to Ayodhya after his party called off ties with their longtime allies BJP and joined hands with ideological rivals Congress and Nationalist Congress Party to form a coalition government in Maharashtra.
Mr Thackeray’s trip to Ayodhya is being seen as a significant gesture as the Shiv Sena chief has remained stuck to his strong Hindutva identity despite a new alliance with the ideological rivals. At the same time, no Congress or NCP leaders are likely to accompany the Shiv Sena chief.
The Shiv Sena, now at the other side of political divide, has been critical of PM Narendra Modi and his government’s policies.
The party had just last month taken a swipe at the Prime Minister when he announced formation of a trust for temple construction is Ayodhya.
Shiv Sena had said that the trust was aimed at “laying the foundation” for the Delhi Assembly polls and it will be completed during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
“This visit should not be politicised. This is a matter of faith. Whoever wants to accompany me, can come. Taking blessings from God has no connection to politics,” Mr Thackeray had said at a press conference in Mumbai a few days ago.
Mr Thackeray had earlier visited Ayodhya in 2018 when his party was part of a coalition government with the BJP in Maharashtra.