Officials make futile effort to pacify squabbling sadhus

Attempts made in presence of senior government officials to broker peace between rival factions of "akharas" at the ongoing Maha Kumbh have cut no ice with ascetics belonging to the Vaishnavite sect refusing to abide by the agreement.

At a lunch hosted by the Inspector General of Police of Allahabad, Alok Sharma yesterday, representatives of the rival councils of "akharas" announced dissolution of their respective groups and agreed to holding fresh elections to the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad after the ongoing Kumbh.

The Parishad had suffered a split after the Haridwar Kumbh in 2010 when incumbent head of the council Mahant Gyandas, who enjoys support of the Vaishnavities, was replaced by Mahant Baldev Singh.

However, soon after yesterday's meeting was over, Vaishnavite akharas rejected the agreement saying such a decision could not be taken without consulting all concerned.

Rajendra Das, a senior sadhu associated with the vaishnavite Nirmohi Akhara, who was present at the luncheon, said "it was an informal meeting and a decision to dissolve the council cannot be taken in this way".

Significantly, the Nirmohi Akhara had recently announced that it would boycott the "Shahi Snan" festivals of Mauni Amavasya and Basant Panchmi next month if Gyandas was not allowed to take part with the respect that was his due.

The three Vaishnavite akharas - Nirvani, Nirmohi and Digambar - also boycotted a meeting of all the akharas convened late last evening.

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