Protesting Char Dham priests’ body to field candidates in 15 Uttarakhand seats

Written by Avaneesh Mishra
| Dehradun |

Updated: November 19, 2021 7:44:31 am

The priests have been demanding rollback of the board, claiming that it has ended their traditional rights on the temples.

The Hak Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti, formed by Char Dham teerth purohits protesting the Uttarakhand government’s decision to form the Devasthanam Board, has announced that it will field candidates on 15 seats in the upcoming Assembly polls and campaign against the ruling BJP.

The samiti also said that its priests will gherao the state Assembly during its forthcoming Winter Session to be held in Gairsain. Making the announcement on Thursday, samiti president Krishna Kant Kotiyal said the priests will also reach out to the Opposition.

The Devasthanam Board Act, enacted during the tenure of then chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, led to the formation of the Devasthanam Board two years ago, which governs 51 temples associated with the Char Dhams — Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

The priests have been demanding rollback of the board, claiming that it has ended their traditional rights on the temples.


Chance for Congress to set narrative

The move by the Samiti may not pose a direct challenge for the BJP. But it can be a shot in the arm for Congress, which can project BJP as a party ignoring the demands of the priests — and thus of temples. Former CM Harish Rawat has already announced that Congress will dissolve the Devasthanam Board.

On November 1, Trivendra had faced protest when he visited Kedarnath, with priests showing him black flags, forcing him to return without offering prayers at the temple. Two days later, current Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami traveled to Kedarnath before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high-profile visit to the shrine, and assured the priests that the issue will be resolved by November 30. The priests then postponed their agitation.

However, Kotiyal told The Indian Express Thursday that the priests do not trust the BJP and its government anymore. “We plan to take our message to the entire country through devotees coming here. We will request them to vote against the BJP and will send postcards to all prominent people,” he said.

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