SHIRDI: Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Sunday said the number of devotees visiting the Saibaba shrine in Shirdi took a hit on Sunday due to the bandh even as he called for peaceful resolution of the row over Saibaba's actual birthplace.
Shirdi remained shut in protest against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's statement referring Pathri town in Parbhani district as the "janmasthan" (birthplace) of Saibaba, the 19th Century spiritual figure.
"When I enquired about today's footfall of devotees at Shirdi, I came to know that it dropped by 10,000. I also got to know that people canceled their bookings at hotels in the temple town," the Food and Civil Supplies Minister told reporters here.
The senior NCP leader said such bandhs and protests are not good for the temple town.
Earlier in the day, Sachin Tambe, a former member of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust said that devotees visiting Shirdi didn't face any inconvenience due to the bandh.
An Ahmednagar district administration official had said that devotees who made pre-bookings at hotels in Shirdi were allowed to stay.
Meanwhile, Bhujbal also appealed to residents of Pathri and Shirdi to resolve the row through dialogue.
"Saibaba would not have liked the controversy over his birthplace," Bhujbal said.
He said Saibaba's devotees visit the Shirdi shrine from far-flung places in India and abroad.
"Saibaba is above any caste or religion. Though there are many people in the society who say that Saibaba is not God, but that doesn't anyway lower his stature.
"Saibaba brings people of all castes and communities together. It is not good to fight in his name," the minister said.
He said CM will speak to people from both the sides on Monday.