Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (Photo Credit: File)
Shiv Sena MP Sadashiv Lokhande Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday met residents of temple town Shirdi and withdrew his statement where he declared Saibaba's birthplace as Pathri. However, there was no official confirmation for the same.
Shiv Sena leader Kamlakar Kothe, however, said Thackeray has assured that the Pathri village will not be termed as Saibaba's birthplace.
"Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has accepted our demands. People of Shirdi are satisfied with what he said. He has assured us that no new dispute will be created and we are ending the matter," news agency ANI quoted Kothe as saying, after a representative of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust met Thackeray earlier in the day.
On Sunday, devotees in Shirdi staged a protest against Thackeray over his decision to develop Pathri in Parbhani as a religious centre terming it the birthplace of Saibaba. The indefinite 'bandh' was later called off later in view of the meeting called by Thackeray in Mumbai to discuss the issue.
After the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar held a detailed discussion with Sai Baba Trust representatives.
"The controversy over the birthplace of Saibaba has been resolved in the meeting with the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray," Lokhande told news agency PTI.
On January 9, the Maharashtra cabinet held a review meeting of the development works in Parbhani district. In the meeting, Thackeray had announced that Pathri, considered as the birthplace of Saibaba would be developed as a site for religious tourism. Thackeray also announced a grant of Rs 100 crore to Pathri.
Lokhande said Thackeray asked the Shirdi temple representatives if they have an issue with the allocation of Rs 100 crore for the development of Pathri to which they said their opposition was only to the declaration of Pathri as Saibaba's birthplace and not for any development initiative.
A century after Saibaba died, a heated debate has begun in Maharashtra on the spiritual figures birthplace, with some claiming it is Pathri in Parbhani district and other saying it was Shirdi in Ahmednagar district.
Saibaba is equally revered by Hindus and Muslims.
Locals of Shirdi, located 250 km away from Mumbai, observed a one-day bandh on Sunday, with shops and businesses in a majority of the villages remaining shut. Those in Shirdi had also called for an indefinite bandh in the temple town from Sunday midnight but it was called off by evening on the assurance of a meeting with Thackeray.
Lokhande said Shirdi residents were not against development of any place (Pathri).
After the meeting, BJP MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil told reporters that the outcome of the meeting with the chief minister was satisfactory and hence they have decided to call off the agitation.
(With PTI inputs)