Shani temple row: Women activists speak in two voices, CMO puts them on holdhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/shani-temple-row-women-activists-speak-in-two-voices-cmo-puts-them-on-hold/

Shani temple row: Women activists speak in two voices, CMO puts them on hold

Temple entry movement suffers a jolt as both groups indulge in mudslinging.

Shani Shingnapur, Shani temple, Shani temple agitation, women activists, Shani Shingnapur temple row, Sri Sri, Trupti Desai, Women entry in temple, women banned from religious places
Villagers and trustees claim that the temple has a
400-year-old tradition of not allowing women on the platform where the Shani idol is installed. Express Archive

The “movement” for entry of women into the core shrine area of Shani Shingnapur temple suffered a jolt on Tuesday with the Bhumata Brigade, which is spearheading the agitation, developing cracks in its ranks.

In fact, three key members who walked out of the brigade on Tuesday announced the formation of a new outfit, Bhumata Swabhimani Brigade, which claimed that it was leading the agitation, thereby causing confusion among state government officials.

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Both the outfits wasted no time in claiming that they would be meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a day or two as he was expected to take a final decision on entry of women into the core shrine area of the temple.

However, the Chief Minister’s office, which had promised to meet the women activists on Tuesday, has put them on hold for now.
“Yes, the government knows the organisation has split in two. But the decision regarding a meeting with the CM has not been taken so far,” said Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to the Chief Minister.

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Official sources said the government was now in a dilemma as to which organisation it should hold discussions with.

Trupti Desai, who heads the Bhumata Brigade, said, “I don’t know about the existence of any other outfit. But Bhumata Brigade has been waiting for a green signal from the CM who is going to take the final decision over our demand.”

However, members of the newly formed organisation said they had sent a letter to the Chief Minister, seeking an appointment over the controversy.

Meanwhile, the women activists fighting their right to pray were on Tuesday found quarrelling among themselves. They accused one another of being publicity seekers and not serious about the “right to pray” and “dignity of women.”

Bhumata Brigade’s founder-president Trupti Desai, who shot to limelight after she led the January 26 agitation and was detained at Supa near Shani Shingnapur, came under fire from the activists who formed the new group.

“Desai sidelined us, took unilateral decisions and tried to seek publicity for herself. Her behaviour made the movement look non-serious,” said Pushpak Kewadkar, who was vice-president of the Bhumata Brigade.

Desai hit back, saying they were non-entities and rotten eggs.

“Their exit won’t affect our agitation in any way. I am not a publicity-seeker. In fact, they have formed a new organisation with the intention to gain publicity,” Desai said.

Priyanka Jagtap of the new group said, “Desai’s lack of seriousness was seen during the January 26 agitation when she declared that the stir was successful. How can it be successful when we had not achieved our target of offering prayers from the prohibited platform?” she asked.

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The new organisation also accused Desai of hogging the limelight by appearing before the media and not allowing them to speak their mind. Desai denied the charge.

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