Pune, June 24 (PTI) BJP MLC Gopichand Padalkar on Wednesday demanded that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray avoid visiting Pandharpur for the annual 'mahapuja' of Lord Vitthal on the occasion of 'Ashadhi Ekadashi' amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the CM should instead follow in the footstep of his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis by bestowing the honour to perform the 'mahapuja' on a common 'warkari' (devotee of Lord Vitthal) family.
'CM Thackeray should give the honour to a common farmer-warkari family. He should think over this,' Padalkar told reporters.
When Fadnavis was chief minister, he had once performed the mahapuja from his official residence in Mumbai in view of opposition from some people from Pandharpur.
'Ashadhi Ekadashi' falls on July 1 this year.
'CM (Thackeray) should do the same. This will send a good message across the state and common 'warkaris' will also think that (social distancing) rules are being followed. They will feel that like them, the CM is also not going to Pandharpur (in view of the pandemic),' he said.
Fadnavis, however, disagreed with Padalkar's demand.
'The demand is not appropriate. I think if CM wants he should go to Pandharpur. The decision on who will perform the first pooja can be taken unanimously. Irrespective of the political affiliation, it's the CM's prerogative..Any third person saying that CM should not come to Pandharpur is unwarranted,' he said The chief minister should take a call after reviewing the situation, he said.
Lakhs of devotees undertake 'Wari' (pilgrimage on foot) every year on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi.
The traditional palanquin processions taken out from nook and corner of Maharashtra towards Pandharpur are not allowed this year in view of COVID-19 pandemic. PTI SPK NSK NSK