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Trivendra Rawat is an attention seeker, says Char Dham temple priests on former CM’s remark on Joshimath

Why did he not use the Devasthanam funds during Raini disaster, they ask

January 23, 2023 11:25 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:12 am IST - New Delhi

 Trivendra Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.

 Trivendra Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. | Photo Credit: PTI

Char Dham temple priests came down heavily on Trivendra Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, who remarked that were the Devasthanam Board been in place, the State government wouldn’t have to wait for the Centre’s help to rehabilitate people in Joshimath, the town affected by land subsidence.

Talking to The Hindu, Suresh Semwal, president of Uttarakhand Char Dham Teerth-purohit Mahapanchyat, a body that represents the priests of Char Dham temples, said that Mr. Trivendra is an attention seeker and he keeps commenting on sensitive issues just to hog the limelight.

“When he says if Devasthanam Board were in place, government’s treasury would have been full, it makes it clear that all Mr. [Trivendra] Rawat wanted was the temple’s money,” he added.

In a video that has gone viral on social media, Mr. Trivendra, responding to a question on the crisis in Joshimath, could be heard saying, “Had the Devasthanam board not been repealed, we would not have had to wait for funds for rehabilitation of Joshimath.”

The BJP government and the priests have been at loggerheads on the issue of the Devasthanam Board (a board to take over the temples of the State) since November 2019, when the plan was pitched and executed by the then CM, Mr. Trivedra. After protests from priests in the State, the Board was dissolved by Mr. Trivendra successor, Tirath Singh Rawat.

There are rumours that the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board, which brought 51 shrines of Uttarakhand — including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri — under the control of the State government, leaving a limited role for those who had been managing the affairs of these shrines till now, was one of the key reasons why Mr. Trivendra had to lose his seat before completing a full term.

Brijesh Sati, general secretary of the priest body, said that Mr. Trivendra has been a major reason for the embarrassment for the ruling BJP government since the beginning.

“Just a couple of day ago, he had attacked Pushkar Dhami by saying that in a democracy, responsibility often comes to people who are not in a position to handle it. What does he mean by saying all this. That Mr. Dhami is not capable?” he asked. In the same viral videowhich is making rounds of Twitter, he has said, “It is an irony and even beauty of a democracy that people in this system elect their representatives. So, sometimes the onus or the responsibility comes to people who cannot handle it. That leads to problems.”

Mr. Sati went on to ask how much of the money from the Board did Mr. Trivendra use to help the victims of the Raini disaster in 2021, when he had been the CM and the Char Dham Devasthanam Board was also in existence.

Over 200 people — working in the under-construction power plant — were killed and several were displaced after a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off, leading to floods in Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga river.

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