Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has cancelled his tomorrow’s visit to a temple in Pandharpur town in view of the proposed protest by the Maratha community seeking reservation in government jobs.
As part of a long-standing tradition, the chief minister every year offers prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur in Solapur district, located around 400 km from here, on the occasion of ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’.
The auspicious day of performing puja is decided as per the lunar calendar and this year it falls on July 23.
“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will not attend the puja tomorrow, going by the strong sentiments of pro- reservation leaders of the Maratha community,” cabinet minister Girish Mahajan said today.
Maratha community leaders have threatened to disrupt the religious event if their various demands, including reservation in government jobs and education, are not accepted by the government.
“If Fadnavis visits Pandharpur on July 23, we will hold a massive protest there and disrupt the puja,” a pro- quota leader of the community had announced a couple of days back in the temple town after holding talks with like-minded groups.
The community had earlier taken out several rallies in various districts to highlight their demands. Last year, the community members had organised a huge rally in Mumbai.
Despite assurances from Fadnavis to fulfil the demands, nothing concrete has been done till now, the community leaders claimed.
Every year around 10 lakh people reach Pandharpur to visit the temple on the occasion of ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’.
Ekadashi marks the culmination of a pilgrimage, called ‘waari’, that devotees undertake from across the state on foot to reach the temple town in western Maharashtra.