The Trivendra Singh Rawat government is planning an umbrella organisation to manage the ‘Char Dhams’ of Uttarakhand.
It will be called the Char Dham Shrine Board on the lines of ones governing Vaishno Devi and Tirupati.
In a major development concerning the management of the four prominent dhams — the four prominent abodes of dharma for the Hindus in Devbhoomi, the Trivendra Singh Rawat government in Uttarakhand has decided to set up a Char Dham Shrine Board.
Reports suggest that the proposed Char Dham Shrine board would be made on the lines of the Vaishno Devi and Tirupati Balaji shrine boards.
The cabinet, according to reports, has approved the proposal. It also “includes 51 other temples.”
Currently, the Badri Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC) looks at the administration of the four dhams.
The Hindustan Times said in its report, “The state government plans to enact the Chardham Shrine Management Board Act 2019 to oversee the management of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.”
The report quotes Uttarakhand urban development minister and spokesperson for the state government, Madan Kaushik, as saying: “Once formed, the CM of the state would head the board as its chairperson. Three MPs, six MLAs, several secretaries and priests of the char dhams will also be included as members in the board,” Kaushik said.
As per this minister, the move was meant to improve facilities at Uttarakhand’s prominent temples, and this in turn will be aimed at achieving a bigger pitch for Hinduism-related tourism.
The aim is also to see a consolidation of resources and better administration and management of abodes.
A report in The Pioneer says: “The Chief Minister would be the chairman of the board and a senior ranking IAS officer would be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the board. The meeting of the board would be organised once in a year and the rights of the stakeholders would remain intact.”
Kaushik, as per the HT report said that the suggested board will look after the rights of the priests and see that they enjoy their rights just the way they have done, previously.
He even addressed a possibility in particular. The report quotes him as saying: “In case there is a Muslim CM, then a senior Hindu cabinet minister would be the chairperson of the board.”
The proposed Bill, which will be tabled in the house in the winter session this year, once cleared, will head to the governor for assent.
According to reports, not everyone has welcomed the move; while the government is saying that the aim is to improve the experience of pilgrims, there are signs of some resentment coming from a section of pujaris in the state.
Char Dhams are the centre of devotion of Hindus in India and the world over. Temple management is an important factor when it comes to BJP’s position amidst its supporters.
The Rawat government, with support from the Centre and PM Modi, has been working towards better infrastructure surrounding the hubs of devotion. The “double engine sarkar’s” well-meaning intentions towards building better access to the four dhams cannot be negated.
However, it remains to be seen how this move will be perceived by BJP supporters and voters not just in Uttarakhand, but also outside the state, where temple management, boards and control are matters of concern for bhaktas.