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Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, along with fellow Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs, will visit Ayodhya on Sunday.
This is Shinde’s first visit to the temple town since being sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister in June last year. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also left for Ayodhya from Mumbai on Sunday.
Shinde and other Shiv Sena leaders flew down to Lucknow on Saturday. Shinde was welcomed by his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath at the Lucknow airport, amid fanfare.
The Maharashtra CM will perform ‘aarti’ on the banks of the Saryu River. He will also visit the ongoing construction site of Ram Mandir.
“This is not a political visit. I keep visiting Ayodhya but this is the first time I have come here as the chief minister. All our party leaders wanted to take the blessings of Lord Ram. I want to thank Yogi-ji and his ministers who were here to welcome us,” Shinde told ANI.
To welcome Shinde, the Shiv Sena put up big banners with his image, in Ayodhya.
Before leaving for Lucknow, CM Shinde said in a press conference, “We will be going to Ayodhya to seek Lord Ram’s blessings on April 9. The call of faith and belief prompted us to undertake this visit. We will perform the Aarti. I still remember that Dharmveer Anand Dhigana (Anand Dighe, who the Maharashtra CM considers his mentor) had sent a Karsevak to Ayodhya with a silver brick. So, we have old bonding with Ram Lalla and will be visiting the temple also.”
He said the Shiv Sena leaders wanted to go to Ayodhya after getting the Bow and Arrow symbol.
“We will take part in programmes that the seers have organised in Ayodhya.
In a dig at his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray, Shinde said, “Earlier, seers were killed in Palghar, but now we will protect them.”
The Palghar incident happened during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government headed by Uddhav.