Mumbai: Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar's plan to visit Jyotirlingas every Monday during the ongoing auspicious month of Shravan was criticised by the opposition here today, which alleged that the state government depends on divine intervention to ease its woes.

However, Mungantiwar refuted the opposition's charges saying that he would visit holy places purely to prepare a plan for their development.

Incidentally, Jyotirlingas are holy places associated with Lord Shiva and it is believed that those who worship him every Monday during the month of Shravan, receive the Lord's blessings.

According to an official from Mungantiwar's department, on August 17, the minister did not visit one of the Jyotirlingas in the state as planned and visited Sri Sailam, a holy site in Karnataka instead.

On August 24, which is the second Monday, Mungantiwar worshipped Lord Shiva at Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga at Verul in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, the official said.

On August 31, which is the third Monday, Mungantiwar plans to visit Bhimashankar in Pune district and on September 7, which is the fourth Monday, he is scheduled to visit Aundha Nagnath at Parli in Beed district of Maharashtra, the official said.

Criticising Mungantiwar's visits to holy sites, Congress leader Sachin Sawant said that it is absurd for a minister seeking divine intervention to free the state from the massive deficit it faces.

"It is absurd that the Maharashtra finance minister has to depend on God to administer the state. Instead, he should ask his colleagues to become transparent and stop their corrupt practices. Mungantiwar should pray that the state remains corruption free and work hard for its betterment, the Congress leader said.

Responding to these allegations, Mungantiwar said that as per an assurance given by him in his budget speech, he has been preparing a development plan for 'Tirth Kshetras' (religious places) across the state of Maharashtra. He said that he visited Grishneshwar temple on Monday with his wife since it was the Monday of the Shravan month, adding that it is not wrong for a minister to worship Lord Shiva.

"At Verul, the forest department will create a 'Mahadev Van', a forest for Lord Shiva where all religious trees will be planted," he said. The state will allocate Rs 10 crore to develop the Grishneshwar temple, he said.

"Trees such as banyan, pipal, sycamore, rudraksh, basil and Bela will be planted. Other religious places will be developed within a few years and we will fullfil the assurance given to the people of the state," Mungantiwar said.