Sai Baba Birthplace Row Uncalled For; CM Can’t Be Blamed: Sena

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday, 21 January, said Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray should not be blamed for the "uncalled for" controversy over the birthplace of Saibaba as nobody can tell whether the 19th century saint was actually born in Shirdi.

Noting that the Saibaba Sansthan's assets are worth over Rs 2,600 crore out of which social works are done, an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said Shirdi became "rich" because of the saint, and none can snatch away the richness of the town where he died.

It also said that Thackeray did not refer to Pathri in Parbhani district as Saibaba’s birthplace “on his own”, but on the basis of versions of some historians.

During a state Cabinet meeting on 9 January, Thackeray said Pathri, considered the birthplace of Saibaba, would be developed as a site of religious tourism, and announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for the place.

The led to a row following which locals from Shirdi called for a bandh in the temple town on Sunday, 19 January.

The bandh was, however, called off on Sunday midnight and Thackeray met some residents of Shirdi on Monday and the issue was resolved.

" “The chief minister did not stoke any controversy. Pathri and Shirdikars, too, should not create it. This will lessen the glow of saints.”" - Shiv Sena

The "uncalled for" controversy was put to rest after the chief minister promptly paid attention to the matter and cleared the government's stance on the issue, it said.

The Sena said Thackeray did not refer to Pathri during the 9 January meeting "on his own", but on the grounds of versions of some historians.

Saibaba "appeared" at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district, but none can tell whether he actually was born there. When Saibaba first showed up in Shirdi, nobody knew what his name was and from where had come, the Marathi daily said.

"From where Baba came to Shirdi, whether he came from Pathri, there is a mention about this in Parbhani's government gazette that 'according to some, it (Pathri) could be the birthplace of Shirdi's saint Saibaba'," it said.

"The chief minister has not written or published the gazette. Hence, he should not be blamed for the controversy," the Shiv Sena said.

The party further said Shirdi became "rich" because of Saibaba and none can snatch away the richness from the town where the saint breathed his last.

The Saibaba Sansthan's assets are worth Rs 2,693 crore and the temple daily gets donations in lakhs out of which social works are carried out, it noted.

"Why then the controversy over the birthplace of the fakir (an ascetic) who was a born fakir and appeared in Shirdi as a fakir? It is not going to lessen the importance of Shirdi," the ruling party said.

The importance of Pune's Shivneri fort, where Chhatrapati Shivaji was born, did not lessen after the Maratha warrior king died at Raigad Fort, which has now become a "tirth kshetra" (holy place), it added.

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