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Rebel akharas elect Mahanirvani akhara's Mahant Ravindra Puri as ABAP president

HARIDWAR, Oct 22: The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex body of 13 Hindu monastic orders in the country, has split over its president's choice. Seven breakaway akharas have elected their own president, general secretary and other office- bearers.

The ABAP was scheduled to meet on October 25 in Prayagraj to elect a successor to Mahant Narendra Giri who passed away last month.

However, seven rebel akharas held a 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. The meeting was chaired by ABAP vice- president Devendra Singh Shastri of Nirmal akhara.

The seven dissident group consists of Nirmohi, Nirvani, Digamber, Mahanirvani, Atal, Bada Udasin and Nirmal akharas.

The ABAP is left with Niranjani, Juna, Avahan, Anand, Agni and Naya Udasin akharas.

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

Discontentment has been brewing among the akharas for quite some. There was also divisions 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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