PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi was elected new chairman of the Shree Somnath Trust (SKT), the religious body which manages and maintains the famous Somnath temple near Veraval in Gujarat, at a virtual meeting of the board of trustees on Monday.
The post of chairman of the trust had fallen vacant following the death of Keshubhai Patel, former chief minister of Gujarat, in October 2020.
Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, veteran BJP leader LK Advani, chairman of Kolkata-based construction major Ambuja Neotia Goup, Harshvardhan Neotia, retired chief secretary of Gujarat Pravin Laheri and retired professor of Sanskrit in Veraval, Jeevan Parmar, are the members of the board of trustees of the SKT.
A virtual meeting of the trustees was originally scheduled for January 11 but was postponed due to PM’s interaction with chief ministers of states of the country ahead of the launch of the mass Covid-19 vaccination drive. It was rescheduled for January 12 but was further postponed to January 18.
While Laheri and Prof Parmar joined from Gujarat, the rest joined from their respective places, Laheri, secretary of SKT, told The Indian Express. “Shah proposed name of Mr Modi for the post of chairman and everyone seconded it and elected him new chairman uncontested,” Laheri added.
The Central government and the Gujarat government have powers to nominate four trustees each on the board of trustees of SKT. While Shah had filled the vacancy created by the death of former Congress MP Prasannvadan Mehta in 2014, the board has not had any replacement for Rajen Kilachand, the chairman of Dubai-based Kilachand Group in 2016. Thus, the board was functioning with seven trustees and now have only six.
“At the meeting on Monday, the board deferred decision to induct new trustees,” Laheri said.
The SKT board conducts election to the post of its chairman every year. Patel was serving as the chairman of the SKT since 2004. He had become a trustee of the board in year 1999.
Advani too has been closely associated with Somnath temple in recent decades. It was from Somnath that he had embarked on his Rath Yatra in 1990.