MUMBAI: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has defended the Maharashtra government’s decision to declare Pathri as Sai Baba’s birthplace and develop amenities for devotees even as people in Shirdi have given a call for a shutdown while opposing the decision.
NCP legislator Durrani Abdullah Khan on Friday said that there is enough evidence to prove that Saibaba was born at Pathri and the government’s decision to grant Rs 100 crore for the development of Pathri is being opposed due to fear that if this town in Parbhani district is developed, the importance of Shirdi, which has a grand temple of the saint, will fade.
“While Shirdi is Sai Baba’s ‘karmabhoomi’ (workplace), Pathri is the ‘janmabhoomi’ (birthplace) and both these places have their own importance,” Durrani said.
He was reacting to a call for a bandh given by the people of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district against the government’s decision.
Devotees in large numbers throng the Shri Sai Janmasthan Temple at Pathri and during a recent visit there, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for development of the town, Durrani said.
“The Chief Minister has agreed to grant Rs 100 crore to Pathri. People of Shirdi don’t have an issue with the funds. They just don't want Pathri to be called Sai Baba’s birthplace,” he added.
Shirdi houses a huge Sai Baba Temple that draws lakhs of devotees. It is one of the most popular pilgrim destinations in the country and was brought on the aviation map last year on the occasion of the “Samadhi centenary” of Sai Baba.
While giving a call for a shutdown, Shirdi residents said there is no evidence of Pathri being the birthplace of Sai Baba except a non-authentic biography, adding that they had defended the case of Shirdi in the past even before the President.