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Warkaris heave sigh of relief as CM cancels puja at Pandharpur

Pandharpur, Mangalwedha and Sangola tehsils of Solapur witness violent protests.

pune Updated: Jul 23, 2018 14:57 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,warkari
The protest called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha demanding reservation turned violent on Saturday as protestors burnt a state transport bus at Sangola in Solapur district.(HT Photo)

After chief minister Devendra Fadnavis decided not to visit Pandharpur and perform puja of Lord Vitthal on Monday, warkaris heaved a sigh of relief as the decision has avoided confrontation and possible violence in the area. As per the decision, the first warkari in queue will perform the puja.

As part of a long-standing tradition, the chief minister, on behalf of the entire state of Maharashtra, every year offers prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur in Solapur district, located around 250 km from Pune, on the occasion of ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’. The auspicious day of performing the puja is decided as per the lunar calendar and this year it falls on Monday.

This year, however, the CM’s visit was surrounded by controversy as Maratha outfits while demanding reservation for the community had threatened to not allow Fadnavis to perform the puja and disrupt the ceremony. Following the protest by Maratha outfits, Fadnavis decided not to visit Pandharpur and instead perform the puja at his official bungalow, keeping in mind the law and order issue.

“It is a sensible decision taken by the CM not to come here. The Maratha outfits should not have threatened to disrupt the puja as they don’t have right to use Pandharpur as ground to press for their demand,” said Bandatatya Karadkar, a warkari sect leader. Karadkar praised Fadnavis for allowing a warkari to perform the puja in the absence of a government representative.

During the last two days, the protest called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha demanding reservation turned violent on Saturday as protestors burnt state transport bus at Sangola in Solapur district.The district also witnessed two more incidents of stone pelting on ST buses.

Reacting to the CM’s decision, Maruti Kokate, president of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj palkhi dindi programme, said, “We do not have any opinion on the protest called by the Maratha community. We have gathered here for a day and all other things are not important for us. The CM’s decision to not come here keeping in mind the possible law and order situation is welcomed as warakaris can take darshan now without problems and return home,” said Kokate.

North Solapur, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha and Sangola tehsils of Solapur district have witnessed outbreak of violent protests from the Maratha community.Considering the situation and keeping in mind the safety of lakh of pilgrims in Pandharpur, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis decided not to perform puja in Pandharpur.

Girish Mahajan, Maharashtra water resources minister, said, “The government is very sensitive about the reservation issue. To avoid law and order related issues, CM decided not to perform the annual puja.”

The Maratha Kranti Morcha, which had taken to the streets from August 2016 to December 2016 over a range of issues, including reservation and organised 58 rallies in almost every major city in the state, held its first recent rally on the issue in Tuljapur, Osmanabad, two weeks ago. Since then, community members had been staging small protests across the state.

First Published: Jul 23, 2018 14:53 IST