Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is in Ayodhya, on Saturday announced that he will offer an amount of Rs 1 crore for Ram Temple construction.
"Today, I want to announce that not from the state govt, but from my trust, I offer an amount of Rs 1 crore. I am here to seek blessings of Ram Lalla. I have with me today several members of my 'Bhagwa' family. It is my third visit in last 1.5 years. I will also offer prayers today," Maha CM Thackeray said.
Speaking to media, Thackeray said, "I am here to seek blessings of Ram Lalla. I have with me today several members of my 'Bhagwa' family. It is my third visit in last 1.5 years. I will also offer prayers today."
"In Marathi, there is a phrase 'phool na phoolachi paakli' (one should offer a petal if not the whole flower). So I am humbly announcing Rs 1 crore assistance for temple construction, not on behalf of the (Maharashtra) government, but our trust," chief minister Thackeray said.
"We are humbly requesting the members of the (Ram temple) trust (formed to construct the temple on the Supreme Court's orders) to accept the small contribution from Ram bhakts (devotees of Lord Ram)," Thackeray told reporters before offering prayers at the makeshift Ram Lalla temple.
Asked about the BJP's criticism that the Sena turned its back on the Hindutva ideology after joining hands with the NCP and Congress to form government in Maharashtra, Thackeray said the Sena still espouses Hindutva.
"I have perhaps parted ways with the BJP (but) not with Hindutva. The BJP and Hindutva are different. BJP does not mean Hindutva," he said.
He also referred to the Sena's vocal support for the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation when his father Bal Thackeray was at the helm of the party.
"Bricks bearing the word 'Shriram' were sent here from Maharashtra in those days. Those bricks could still be here," he added.
The Ram temple which will come up in Ayodhya will be for all, and it should be built on such a scale that people from world-over would come to see it, Thackeray added.
Asked if he will attend Bhumi-pujan (ground-breaking ceremony) of the temple, Thackeray replied in affirmative.
"Whenever Lord Ram wishes, we will come," he said. Thackeray did not perform 'aarti' during the visit, contending precautions should be taken in view of the coronavirus (to avoid crowds).
"I wanted to perform the aarti...But will definitely do it the next time," he said.
(With PTI inputs)