Pune: Following the statement issued by Hindu right wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha opposing appointment of a woman or a person from backward community as a priest in Vitthal temple in Pandharpur, Republican Party of India (A) leader Ramdas Athawale has slammed Sanatan Sanstha and said that the organisation unnecessarily bringing casteism in the issue.
The Supreme Court has recently given verdict in which the court has stated that Utpat and Badve families who have been performing puja in Vitthal temple will not have ancestral right over performing puja in the temple. After the verdict, the government has initiated process where dalits or women can also be priests at Vitthal temple, which the Sanatan Sanstha is opposing.
Reacting on the statement issued by Sanatan Sanstha, Athawale said, “It has been the tradition that the priests from the upper cast performing puja and other rituals in Vitthal temple but with the Supreme Court’s verdict, if person from a backward community is getting an opportunity to perform puja, there should not be any objection by anyone. The Sanatan Sanstha wants to keep its hold on the temple, hence they are bringing casteism in the issue.” Incidentally, Athawale had represented Pandharpur constituency as a member of Parliament. “If a person from backward community is getting equal rights of performing puja, it is a welcome step but such extreme organisations are not in favour of equality.”