Govt caught in Shani Shing­na­pur cross­fire, CM plays peace­maker

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ke­taki Ghoge ke­taki.ghoge@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: Caught be­tween its con­ser­va­tive right-wing sup­port base and its at­tempts to present a pro­gres­sive face in the state, the Deven­dra Fad­navis-led govern­ment is in a bind over the is­sue of en­try of women into the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum of the Shani tem­ple at Shing­na­pur in Ahmed­na­gar, 250 km from Mum­bai.

Af­ter his ad­min­is­tra­tion de­tained some women ac­tivists of the Bhu­mata Ran­ragini Brigade who planned to visit the tem­ple and of­fer wor­ship in the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum on Re­pub­lic Day, Fad­navis tweeted a care­fully-worded com­ment. He said, “In In­dian tra­di­tion and Hindu re­li­gion, women have al­ways had free­dom to wor­ship. Our cul­ture says that there should be change in tra­di­tions and rituals ac­cord­ing to chang­ing times. It is not in our cul­ture to dis­crim­i­nate over ac­cess to wor­ship.”

Af­ter mak­ing this point, the chief min­is­ter, how­ever, lobbed the ball back in the court of the tem­ple ad­min­is­tra­tion and so­ci­ety at large, call­ing for a di­a­logue to re­solve the is­sue and sidestep­ping the is­sue of the le­gal­ity of such re­stric­tions. Sources close to Fad­navis said he in­ter­vened as the protests were threat­en­ing to snow­ball into a na­tion-wide con­tro­versy. The other rea­son that forced the CM’s hand was that the or­gan­i­sa­tion lead­ing the protest was not an elit­ist group.

CON­TIN­UED ON P10

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