PUNE: MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday claimed that political developments around his proposed Ayodhya visit were a ploy to "trap" his party workers into legal tangles and hence, he decided to defer his trip to the Uttar Pradesh city.
Addressing an indoor rally at a hall in Pune city of Maharashtra, Mr Thackeray said he has to undergo a surgery on June 1 and after recovering from it, he would again address a public meeting.
He reiterated that the MNS workers will resume agitation if loudspeakers atop mosques do not follow the noise rules. Mr Thackeray had earlier asked his partymen to play 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside mosques where loudspeakers play 'azaan'.
Amid the controversy over an AIMIM leader's recent visit to Mughal ruler Aurangzeb's tomb in Aurangabad city of Maharashtra, the MNS leader appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar and to bring the Uniform Civil Code.
Taking a swipe at NCP chief who had addressed a rally braving rain before the Maharashtra Assembly polls in 2019, Mr Thackeray said, "We were planning a gathering in an open space, but considering the possibility of rain, we decided to hold it indoors. Also, there are no elections nearby to stand in rain for giving a speech."
On Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently slamming the BJP's "fake Hindutva", the MNS president said, "The Chief Minister claimed their Hindutva is real. Are they talking about a washing powder, like who's detergent is better than the other?" He claimed the MNS has shown "results" on the issue of Hindutva, in the wake of his party's protest against loudspeakers on mosques.
On Friday, Raj Thackeray had announced that his visit to Ayodhya scheduled on June 5 has been put on hold for now, and said he would share the details about it during his Sunday rally in Pune.
He has been facing stiff opposition from Uttar Pradesh BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has warned that Raj Thackeray will not be allowed to enter Ayodhya till he tendered a public apology for "humiliating" north Indians in the past.
On Sunday, Raj Thackeray said when he posted the message about deferring his Ayodhya visit, many people were happy, while some did not like it.
"I was watching things which were being discussed after I had announced the Ayodhya visit. Later, I got to know that it is a trap. It started in Maharashtra," he claimed.
He said those who didn't like his plan to go to Ayodhya started "creating issues" around his visit.
Raj Thackeray said he not only wanted to visit the Ram Janmabhoomi, but also the place where 'karsevaks' were killed back then (after the 1992 Babri mosque demolition).
"If I had been adamant on going there and if something would have happened, our supporters would have taken it head-on. But, they might be booked (in cases). And, it would have affected (the MNS) during elections. I sensed this is a trap. I prefer to accept criticism (for deferring the Ayodhya visit), but don't want our party workers to get into legal issues," he said.
On BJP parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Singh opposing his Ayodhya visit, Raj Thackeray said "How can one MP challenge the Uttar Pradesh chief minister?" The MNS chief also revealed that he was suffering from pain in leg and waist and has to undergo a hip bone surgery on June 1.
"After recovery, I will again hold a public rally," he said. Raj Thackeray also said the MNS will continue to oppose loudspeakers on mosques and resume agitation if they do not follow the noise level guidelines.
He also targeted independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA-husband Ravi Rana, who were last month arrested after they announced to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai.
"Is Matoshree a Masjid?" the MNS chief asked. He also claimed that following an agitaiton by the MNS against road toll tax, 70 to 80 toll plazas have been shut so far.
Claiming that CM Uddhav Thackeray does not protest on relevant issues, the MNS leader asked if the chief minister has any case against him for holding an agitation.
Further hitting out at the ruling allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra, Raj Thackeray said when they were in power at the Centre, they did not change the name of Aurangabad, but kept the issue alive to get votes.
He appealed to Prime Minister Narendta Modi to change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar.
He also appealed to the PM to bring the Uniform Civil Code and norms to control population.
Raj Thackeray also claimed that some parties in Maharashtra were supporting the AIMIM for political gains, noting that a leader from the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party got elected from Aurangabad (defeating the Sena).
The MNS leader also termed AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi's recent visit to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's tomb in Aurangabad as "shocking" and hit out at NCP chief Sharad Pawar over the controversy.
"Does Sharad Pawar think Aurangzeb was a saint? He says Aurangzeb came to expand his empire. Didn't he come to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj? This is now being forgotten," Raj Thackeray said. He also asked who were those funding the development of Aurangzeb's shrine in Aurangabad.