NEW DELHI: Facing backlash over its decision to reserve one seat for Lord Mahakal on the newly launched Varanasi-Indore Kashi Mahakal Express, the IRCTC on Monday clarified that a seat was reserved for Lord Shiva in the train during its inaugural run as a "one-time affair" to seek "blessings" for the success of the new project.
The train staff had "temporarily put the photos of Shri Mahakal" on an upper berth during the inaugural run on Sunday to perform pooja, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which is operating its third train between Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi and Madhya Pradesh's Indore, said in a statement.
Even a temple has been drawn on the seat to make people aware that the seat is reserved for the Lord Mahakal in Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain.
"The staff of the new Kashi-Mahakal Express train temporarily put the photos of Shri Mahakal on an upper berth so as to do pooja to seek blessings for the success of the new project (new train and new rake). It is meant only for the inaugural run as a one-time affair," the IRCTC said.
The railways had reserved seat number 64 in coach B5 for Lord Shiva on the train that will connect three Jyotirlingas -- Omkareshwar near Indore, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi.
The train's first commercial run is scheduled on February 20.
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi questioned the move and tweeted a photo of the Preamble of the Constitution, tagging the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the third IRCTC operated train Kashi Mahakal Express via video conferencing from Varanasi, where he is all launched several projects worth Rs 1,250 crore.
The Prime Minister was on a day visit to his parliamentary constituency.
Earlier, the IRCTC has successfully launched two Tejas Express trains on New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes.