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Niranjani's Mahant Ravindra Puri to succeed Mahant Narendra Giri as Akhara Parishad president

PRAYAGRAJ, Oct 26: Niranjani Akhara secretary Mahant Ravindra Puri was elected the new president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex body of 13 recognised monastic Hindu orders, to succeed Mahant Narendra Giri who passed away last month, on Monday.

Although the ABAP was already scheduled to meet on October 25 in Prayagraj to elect a successor to Mahant Narendra, only seven of the akharas attended following a split in the ABAP. They were Niranjani, Juna, Avahan, Anand, Agni, Nirmal and Naya Udasin akharas. The Nirmal akhara had also attended the rebel meeting held in Haridwar.

The official Monday meeting was attended by akharas following the ‘Shaiva’ tradition.

The rebel akharas had held their meeting in Haridwar on Thursday and elected Mahant Ravindra Puri of Mahanirvani Akhara as president and Mahant Rajendra Das of Nirmohi Akhara as general secretary (In a coincidence, Ravindra Puri is also the name of the president elected at the official meeting held at Prayagraj. The latter is Niranjani Akhara secretary). The meeting was chaired by ABAP vice-president Devendra Singh Shastri of Nirmal akhara.

General secretary of the rebel faction of the ABAP, Mahant Rajendra Das, said, “The election to the Akhara Parishad was held on October 21. The seers of all the akharas have got representation in the meeting and the election conducted in Shree Niranjani Akhara, Prayagraj (on Monday) is illegal and has no recognition”, reported HT.

The dissident meeting was attended by Nirmohi, Nirvani, Digamber, Mahanirvani, Atal, Bada Udasin and Nirmal akharas.

The official Prayagraj meeting of seers was convened by Akhara Parishad general secretary Mahant Hari Giri. Normally, two members from each of the 13 akharas are members of ABAP and its office-bearers are elected from among them.

The incumbent office-bearers of the Akhara Parishad had dismissed the rebels' appointments, calling them illegal. The election of new office-bearers, president and general secretary would only take place at Baghambari mutt in Prayagraj as scheduled, Hari Giri Maharaj, Akhada Parishad general secretary, had asserted.

Discontentment in ABAP has been growing since long. Besides, there was also a division on the lines of Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

The late ABAP president Mahant Narendra Giri, who belonged to Niranjani akhara, was found dead in Baghambari Math on September 20 under suspicious circumstances. A note purportedly written by him was found in his room which had desired Balbeer Giri to be made his successor.

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