Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sunil Deodhar, who is reportedly preparing to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Pune, organised a 'NaMo Pune Bike Rally' on Sunday. The rally saw the participation of over 3,000 bikers and more than 5,000 citizens, including a significant number of women and girls.
The rally commenced from the BJP office at Krishna Sunder Garden, DP Road, Erandwane, and followed a route through various prominent streets of Pune, ending at the Modern Engineering College via Dnyaneshwar Paduka Chowk, FC Road, Jangli Maharaj Road, and others.
Addressing the gathering, Deodhar emphasised the significance of the recently constructed Ram Mandir, attributing its realisation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He expressed the sentiment that just as the nation got the Ram Mandir, Punekars too deserve the Punyeshwar Mandir.
Deodhar reiterated the BJP's commitment to addressing civic issues in Pune and maintaining law and order, urging everyone to strive towards making Pune a city of international standards.
What is the Punyeshwar Mandir controversy?
In 2022, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Ajay Shinde asserted that a commander of Alauddin Khilji had demolished the Punyeshwar and Narayaneshwar temples, following which dargahs were erected on the same site. He referenced an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report purportedly indicating the existence of a temple at the dargah location, situated near Pawle Chowk in Kasba Peth.
Before this, Pune City Police filed a case against Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote and 19 others for allegedly stoking communal tensions by unlawfully gathering people via social media messages and invitations for a "Maha Aarti" event at the site.
Last year, several pro-Hindu organisations, including the BJP, staged a demonstration outside the PMC main building under the banner of the Punyeshwar Punarnirman Samiti, demanding the removal of purported encroachments around the temple. BJP legislators Nitesh Rane and Mahesh Landge, along with city BJP chief Dheeraj Ghate and former mayor Murlidhar Mohol, actively participated in the protest.