Babri Masjid brick: Raj Thackeray receives a special 'tribute'

Former MNS MLA Bala D. Nandgaonkar had preserved two bricks carefully from his own kar sevak days

MLA Bala D. Nandgaonkar (in white, left) speaks to mediapersons; the brick from the Babri Masjid he offered as tribute to Raj Thackeray )(right) (photos: IANS)
MLA Bala D. Nandgaonkar (in white, left) speaks to mediapersons; the brick from the Babri Masjid he offered as tribute to Raj Thackeray )(right) (photos: IANS)
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IANS

The usually stern-looking Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray was seen beaming in Mumbai on Tuesday, 6 February, when he got an unusual gift from a senior party leader—a brick from the ruins of the Babri Mosque, felled on 6 December 1992 in Ayodhya.

Former MNS MLA Bala D. Nandgaonkar, a member of the undivided Shiv Sena and one of the kar sevaks from Mumbai, formally presented the brick to Raj Thackeray at the latter’s home in Dadar.

For 32 years, he had carefully preserved the two bricks he had managed to bring back with him to Mumbai, and one brick he handed over to a thrilled Raj Thackeray this morning.

“I had gone to Ayodhya for kar seva then… Those were difficult times. We did not know if we would return alive. After the Babri Mosque was demolished, I had brought a couple of bricks with me here,” Nandgaonkar told IANS.

Nandgaonkar said that after the demolition of the structure, he had taken a vow “to gift the brick as a souvenir to the late Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray”, but only after the Lord Ram temple would actually be constructed at the site in Ayodhya, as per his cherished desires.

However, the Hindu Hriday Samrat, Balasaheb Thackeray, passed away in November 2012 and the Lord Ram temple came up only in January 2024, so he decided to present it to his nephew, Raj Thackeray.

“As far as we are concerned, Raj Thackeray is our Balasaheb… Raj Saheb is Balasaheb’s ideological heir… So I have fulfilled my promise today,” Nandgaonkar smiled with pride, pointing out that the Pran Pratishtha ceremony of the Lord Ram Temple was completed in Ayodhya on 22 January.

Accepting the brick, Raj Thackeray said Nandgaonkar was among the kar sevaks who had gone to Ayodhya and proof of the Shiv Sena’s contribution to that event when the structure finally crashed down.

“Look at this brick… It's very heavy… Gives us an idea of the excellent construction then,” commented the MNS chief, staring, closely examining the heavy and centuries-old brick coming from the rubble of the demolished structure.

Taking a potshot at the practices in modern times, Raj Thackeray asked: “Why was the construction of that era very good and strong? Because they did not award ‘building contracts’ in those days…!”

He sighed and added that if his uncle Balasaheb had been around, “he too would have been extremely overjoyed” by this.

On the fate of the second relic, Nandgaonkar smiled and said that he had kept it in the Shiv Sena office in Mazagaon, which he had handed over to the party after he quit to join the MNS.

“Now that office has been grabbed by Yashwant Jadhav, a ruling Shiv Sena (led by CM Eknath Shinde) MLA… But I have no grudges, he is my old friend,” chuckled Nandgaonkar.

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