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CHIKMAGALUR: Pramod Mutalik, president of the State unit of Shiv Sena, added a new dimension to the controversy over Datta Peetha by announcing here on Friday that his party would conduct a Datta Jayanti in Bababudangiri on December 15. He said that Uddhav Thackeray, national working president of the party, will attend it and efforts are being made to mobilise 50,000 devotees for the programme.
Speaking to presspersons, Mr. Mutalik said leaders of the Sangh Parivar have spurned his offer to jointly conduct the celebrations. He said he had no objection in allowing them to take the leadership as the Hindutva issue was more important than the leadership issue.
Mr. Mutalik, who offered prayers at the Datta Peetha accompanied by his followers, said his party had formally staked its claim in the Datta Peetha Bababudangiri issue.
He said he had avoided the date fixed by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal for Dattamala Abhiyana.
The former Bajrang Dal leader called upon the State Government to solve the controversy surrounding the shrine before the Datta Jayanti celebrations this year.
He said that according to records available with the Revenue Department, the Bababudan Dargah was situated in Nagenahalli about seven km from the peetha and the Government should make efforts to convince the Muslims in this regard.
Reiterating that the Datta Peetha was not a centre for communal harmony, he said the enclave containing the silver sandals said to have been worn by Dattatreya during his penance in the cave belonged only to the Hindus. He ruled out the possibility of Hindus and Muslims offering prayers in the same place as the practices and customs differed.
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