Chennai: A political row is brewing in Tamil Nadu over the State Government imposing restrictions on the celebration of Vinayaka Chaturthi in public in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The AIADMK government had said people could not install Vinayaka idols in public or take them out in a procession for immersion in waterbodies. Instead, people could worship the idol at home.
Expectedly this has upset the BJP and the Hindu Munnani, a religious right-wing outfit that had ushered in the culture of public worship of Lord Vinayaka idols during the Chaturthi celebrations, just like in Mumbai.
The State BJP, which had recently sought to make political capital out of an alleged abuse of a Tamil hymn praising Lord Muruga, the younger brother of Lord Vinayaka, was quick to oppose the move. So much so that its president L Murugan met Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami recently urging him to offer relaxations and allow public worship of the idol at street corners. He assured that crowding will be avoided. The Hindu Munnani announced that it would defy the restrictions and install 1.5 lakh idols in public.
The issue escalated on social media on Wednesday with BJP national secretary H Raja even mocking at State Government, disregarding that it was headed by the AIADMK, an ally. Referring to Karnataka allowing public worship of idols, he caustically remarked, “Potent government.” The AIADMK’s IT wing hit back at the ‘potency’ remark.
The BJP questioned when the government could open liquor shops during the pandemic, why can’t it allow public installation of Vinayaka idols.
However, on Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government reiterated that the restrictions will be in place and cited the Home Ministry guidelines, which ban public congregations of any nature during the lockdown.
Unwilling to accept this, Murugan said the BJP’s stand would be to follow the Hindu Munnani on the issue of installing idols. He said when the State had not accepted other Home Ministry guidelines such as abolishing the e-pass system for vehicular movement, it cannot cite the same guidelines to impose restrictions on Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations.