The controversy that has erupted over Saibaba's birthplace seems to move towards a settlement as Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting on Monday to discuss the row.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision to develop Pathri town in Parbhani district as Sai Baba's birthplace sparked the controversy. Uddhav had allocated Rs.100 crore for this new plan last week. Responding to this shocking decision, all shops in the vicinity of the temple downed their shutters in a bandh called by the residents of the temple city.
To save face, Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting on Monday to sort out the differences. The matter snowballed after Thackeray, who last week visited Pathri, termed it as the 'birthplace' of Sai Baba and announced a Rs 100-crore grant to develop the temple and surrounding areas on the lines of Shirdi, where Sai Baba had spent his life of preaching and teaching till he took 'Samadhi' in October 1918.
BJP leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil informed media persons that the people of Shirdi have no objections if funds are sanctioned for Pathri's development but had reservations to according it the status of "Sai Baba birthplace". Taking cognizance of the Shirdi citizens' strong sentiments, Thackeray has convened a meeting in Mumbai on Monday to resolve the sensitive subject. Earlier, hundreds of Shirdi people took out a procession in the morning and evening carrying banner and placards with photos of Sai Baba, raised slogans and staged protests at various locations, sang bhajans and religious songs extolling Sai Baba.
NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who prayed at the Shirdi Temple on Sunday, said that the shutdown will not resolve the dispute, calling for negotiations without politicising the issue. MLC and former MLA from Pathri, Durrani Khan said that there are enough historical evidences available to prove that Sai Baba was born in Pathri, and his statement was echoed by NCP Minister Dhananjay Munde.
Union Minister of State Ramdas Athawale said that the protests and shutdown cannot solve the issue and the row must be solved with discussions.