Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would on Friday become the first politician in the state to perform both official pujas at the famous Vitthal temple of Pandharpur. He would be performing the `Kartiki Ekadashi' puja at the temple in his capacity as deputy chief minister on Friday.
The customary puja is conducted on behalf of the state government at the temple, a major pilgrimage site and the centre of the Warkari sect. Notably, as Chief Minister from 2014 to 2019, Fadnavis had performed `Ashadhi Ekadashi' puja at the temple in his official capacity. Two major pujas are performed at the Pandharpur temple — Aashadhi Ekadashi and Kartiki Ekadashi.
Ekadashi denotes the 11th day of the lunar calendar, four days prior to the full moon night. The month of Ashadh in the Hindu calendar generally falls in June or July while the month of Kartik overlaps with October or November.
“Since 1985, the Maharashtra Chief Minister performs the puja at the Vitthal Rukmini temple on Ashadhi Ekadashi. Since 1995, the Deputy Chief Minister was given the honour of performing the Kartiki Ekadashi puja," said a government official. But no politician had ever had the distinction of performing both the pujas as nobody had, until now, occupied both the posts.
In Fadnavis's case, he became deputy CM in June this year in the Eknath Shinde-led government having served as Chief Minister for five years between 2014 to 2019. "Fadnavis is going to be the first politician to get the opportunity to perform both the pujas,” the official said.
In 1995, when Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power, Manohar Joshi of the Sena became chief minister while BJP's Gopinath Munde became deputy chief minister. The custom of dividing the two pujas at Pandharpur temple between the CM and deputy CM was started then to take care of "political egos" in alliance governments, said a senior political observer.
After the 2014 elections, the BJP, the single largest party, did not offer the deputy CM's post to its then ally Shiv Sena, he said. “But (then) senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse was given the honour of performing the Kartiki Puja," he said, adding that it indicated that Khadse was `number two' in the cabinet. "After Khadse's resignation, (minister) Chandrakant Patil performed the Kartiki Ekadashi puja in subsequent years,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)