Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will visit Ayodhya on Sunday along with nearly 3,000 Shiv Sainiks.This will be Shinde's first visit to Ayodhya as the chief minister of Maharashtra.The Shiv Sena has booked almost all the hotels, guest houses and dharamshalas to accommodate the Shiv Sena ministers, party MPs and MLAs.
Thousands of Shiv Sainiks are expected to reach Ayodhya on Saturday to welcome Shinde.Apart from the chief minister's entourage and Shiv Sainiks from Maharashtra, around 10,000 Shiv Sena activists from different parts of Uttar Pradesh will also gather in Ayodhya to welcome Shinde.
Shinde will reach Ayodhya by road after landing at Lucknow airport.Welcome gates, banners and posters all along the highway from Lucknow airport to Ayodhya a stretch of 150 km are being put up. "Shinde will travel with a motorcade of more than a hundred vehicles from Lucknow airport to Ayodhya. He will be welcomed by Uttar Pradesh Shiv Sainiks in a large number," said Naresh Mhake, the former Thane mayor who is in Ayodhya to finalise the programmes of Shinde's visit here.
Shinde's visit is on an invite by seers of Ayodhya and comes a week after the Maharashtra government sent the first consignment of prized teakwood from Chandrapur district for temple construction.
The Shiv Sena has prepared a spectacular plan to highlight Shinde's visit to Ayodhya across the country.
Anil Agrawal, convenor of Ayodhya Hotels' Association, said: "The Shiv Sainiks from Maharashtra have booked the hotel rooms online in advance. We are ready to host the guests who are coming from Maharashtra with chief minister Eknath Shinde."
Viraj Mulay, the chief minister's spokesperson, said: "The Maharashtra chief minister will be offering prayers at Hanuman Garhi temple and Ram Mandir. He will also see the construction of the Ram temple and perform evening aarti on the banks of the Saryu. He will return to Mumbai on Sunday evening."
Ayodhya District Magistrate Nitish Kumar said: "Our priority is to provide all facilities to the people coming to Ayodhya. However, those VIPs coming with the Maharashtra chief minister will be provided all the necessary protocols."
This will be the second visit by a Maharashtra chief minister to the upcoming Ram Temple. In March 2020, then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray offered prayers at the Ram temple.Shinde had accompanied Thackeray as a minister in his cabinet.
Earlier, Shinde had also accompanied minister Aditya Thackeray who had visited the Ram Temple and offered prayers there in June 2022, barely a fortnight before the MVA government was toppled by a rebellion led by him.