With pacified Marathas behind him, Fadnavis offers annual worship at Pandharpur temple

first_imgHaving successfully pacified the restive Maratha community by fulfilling their quota demand, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis early on Friday performed the annual puja (worship) of Lord Vitthal and Goddess Rukmini in the temple town in Pandharpur on the auspicious occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi.Last year, the hostile pitch of the quota agitation by Maratha outfits compelled Mr. Fadnavis to cancel the annual worship despite performing pujas in 2015, 2016 and 2017. At the time, he cancelled his visit to the temple town in view of the safety of lakhs of devotees gathered there.It is a time honoured tradition in the State for the Chief Minister and his spouse to perform the first worship (on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi) of the Vitthal-Rukmini deity at Pandharpur’s Vithoba temple, 210 km from Pune.The rituals commenced in the early hours, with Mr. Fadnavis and his wife, Amruta, performing the ‘mahapuja’.“I am extremely happy that I have the chance of offering this worship, which I think is also a kind of privilege… I sought the blessings of Vithoba [Lord Vitthal] to help our government in its efforts to aid farmers in the State and fulfil people’s aspirations,” he said.With the State Assembly elections round the corner, the Chief Minister was asked if he hoped to come to Pandharpur for the puja next year [meaning whether the BJP would win and whether he would be appointed the Chief Minister again].“We were blessed by Lord Vitthal as well as the people of Maharashtra the last time [by winning the 2014 polls] and I am confident that we will be similarly blessed this time as well,” he said.On Thursday, the Chief Minister was feted by members of the Maratha community and the ‘warkaris’ (pilgrims travelling to Pandharpur with the palanquins bearing footprints of the saints, Dnyaneshwar [from Alandi] and Tukaram [from Dehu] communities).The Maratha community members lauded Mr. Fadnavis’ efforts in ensuring reservation for the community in government jobs and education, while the warkaris thanked him for providing amenities throughout their pilgrimage to Pandharpur, especially Mr. Fadnavis’ initiative to distribute more than 5 lakh raincoats to them.Last July, a relentless agitation by the Maratha Kranti Morcha forced Mr. Fadnavis to break with tradition and call off his Pandharpur visit. Instead he performed puja at his official residence ‘Varsha’ in south Mumbai.last_img