Uddhav to address gathering of religious leaders at Pandharpur

In an apparent bid to buttress his image as a Hindutva mascot, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will address a congregation of religious leaders in the temple town of Pandharpur in Maharashtra on December 24, a party leader said Friday.

With the catch-phrase "Vithunamacha Jaijaikar, Pahele Mandir, Phir Sarkar" (praise lord Vitthal, first (Ram) temple, then Government), the Sena has asked all its 227 Shakhas (local offices) in Mumbai and its units elsewhere to mobilise crowds for the rally, a party leader said.

It is part of the Sena's strategy to promote Thackeray as a true Hindutva leader, he added.

"At least 30,000 Sena supporters from Mumbai are expected to attend the rally on December 24. Another one lakh supporters are expected to reach from rest of the state," the Sena source said.

Thackeray had last month visited Varanasi and Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, and addressed a 'Dharma Sabha' of religious leaders in Ayodhya.