Vrindavan Dec 5: The famous Bankey Bihari temple's priests have launched a relay fast and are staging a sit-in to protest the Uttar Pradesh government's bid to set up a management board to run the temple visited by lakhs of devotees every month.
Chief priest Nand Kishore Upmanyu said the Goswamis, the priest community, oppose any attempt to take over the management of the temple by the government.
Several Hindu groups have promised support for the cause. Priests from Goverdhan and Barsana have also joined the Vrindavan priests' stir.
Ruling Samajwadi Party sources said a proposal is before the Uttar Pradesh government to set up an administrative mechanism to manage the affairs of the temple to provide better amenities to the pilgrims and run the system efficiently.
The priests, however, feel this is unwarranted interference, as they feel it would dilute their hold on the temple that has been traditionally run by their families for generations.
Though residents have generally kept away from taking a stand one way or the other, the state government for the moment appears to have gone on the backfoot after sensing stiff opposition from the strong "Brahmanical class" of Braj Mandal that could dent the ruling party's electoral prospects in the 2017 assembly polls.
Earlier, the Samajwadi Party leaders developed cold feet on the issue of upgrading the Mathura municipal body to a full-fledged corporation after merger with Vrindavan.
District leaders of the Congress party have also offered their support to the priests' protest.