Amidst protests, Fadnavis stays away from Pandharpur

Amidst protests, Fadnavis stays away from Pandharpur

According to customs, the Maharashtra chief minister and his wife, on Ashadi Ekadashi offer prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis cancelled his Monday’s visit to the temple town of Pandharpur in Solapur district.

He was to perform the annual puja at the Vitthal-Rukmini temple on the auspicious occasion of Ashadi Ekadashi.

This comes in the wake of threats to not allow the chief minister to perform the puja and intense protests by various Maratha organisations for the last three days.

They are protesting against the government's failure to provide reservation to the community.

According to customs, the Maharashtra chief minister and his wife, on Ashadi Ekadashi offer prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur in Solapur district located around 300 km from Mumbai.

"In view of the  the safety of 10 lakh pilgrims in Pandharpur, I don't want a law and order situation there. I am not scared for my safety as I have Z+ security. If pelting stones at me can get Maratha's reservation, I am ready for it....I can perform puja at home.... But as of now we are following the reservation issue with the courts,” Fadnavis said in Mumbai after meeting BJP president Amit Shah.

Fadnavis also said that state government will allot 16% of the 72,000 posts from the open category quota to the Maratha candidates (as there is a 49% reservation rule by the courts).

The Maratha community, which has held several rallies across the state since the last couple of years to press for various demands including reservation, on Tuesday held a state-level meeting in Pandharpur to discuss their future course of action.

“We have noticed that the state government has not taken any decision on our demands. There have been several delegations and rounds of meetings with state ministers and officials but nothing concrete came out of it. We have hence decided to oppose the chief minister from performing puja," they said after the meeting.

Every year, more than 10 lakh devotees visit the temple on this occasion to pray and seek blessings from the Lord.

Pandharpur is an important holy place in the state and is also called as south Kashi.

A part of Bhima river, on which the Pandharpur town is located, is also known as Chandrabhaga, as the river bends taking a shape like that of a crescent moon.

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