Hyderabad: Shirdi, the place of the samadhi mandir of Shri Saibaba and the second-largest temple in India after Tirupati in terms of footfalls, will remain shut indefinitely from Sunday.

The Saibaba Sansthan Trust has taken the decision to protest the remarks of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who recently said that the saint was born at Pathri in Parbhani district. The latest controversy over Saibaba’s birthplace is the fallout of the rift between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, said a senior political analyst.

Trust representative B Wakchaure said they are opposing rumours on Shri Saibaba’s birthplace. The Trust will take a call on its future course of action after discussing the matter with Shirdi residents. “However, there would not be any inconvenience to devotees who visit Shirdi,” added Wakchaure.

Thackeray recently announced a Rs 100-crore project to develop the Shri Saibaba temple at Pathri, believed to be the birthplace of Baba. This infused a sense of insecurity and fears among residents of Shirdi and a section of devotees as they are concerned over the possible dilution of the Shirdi Samadhi mandir’s importance.

BJP MP Sujay Vikhe Patil said that people of Shirdi and devotees across the world were against Thackeray’s decision and they would fight it. “If the government develops infrastructure at Shri Saibaba temple at Pathri, then that would result in lowering the significance of Shirdi temple. The Pathri temple development project will increase the number of devotees visiting the Janma Bhoomi of Shri Saibaba,” said Patil.

Former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan feels that there should not be any reason to voice concerns against infrastructure development at Pathri temple. Pathri MLA and NCP leader Abdulla Khan said that enough proofs were available supporting the town as the birthplace of Shri Saibaba.

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