Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, late on Wednesday evening, gave permission for Chhath Puja, but urged people not to gather in a large number at the beaches. He also called to celebrate it at home in view of the present coronavirus pandemic.
The Shiv Sena supremo said that the government has crafted guidelines for the Chhath Puja celebrations. The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been directed to set up artificial ponds. As per the guidelines, the government and civic body have banned loudspeakers and bursting of firecrackers. Face mask and social distancing are mandatory.
There has been a war of words between the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners and Bharatiya Janata Party over Chhath Puja. BJP, which on Wednesday had declared its ambitious plan to win on its own the BMC elections slated for 2022 to end the Shiv Sena rule, criticised the civic body and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for denying permission for Chhath Puja.
BJP’s outburst aims at luring North Indian voters ahead of the next BMC elections.
BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar, who on Wednesday was appointed as party in-charge for the BMC elections, strongly condemned the Shiv Sena-controlled civic body and the state government for not allowing the annual ritual of Chhath Puja in the city. “I had sought approval of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for the same long ago. During Diwali, the state government hiked the rent of the Waqf Board lands and allowed the reopening of temples after much delay. It looks as if BMC and the state government are working against the Hindu community by its successive decision,” he alleged.
BMC has been granting nod for performing Chhath Puja in the past. However, in view of the coronavirus pandemic, it has not given approval to avoid crowding and, thereby, curb the spread of the virus.
Congress has shot back and claimed that BJP has been using religion for political gains. “BJP has raked up the Chhath Puja issue in order to get political mileage. BMC had imposed curbs on Chhath Puja against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. By terming BMC’s decision anti-Hindu, BJP has forgotten that similar restrictions were imposed by the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Haryana. Will BJP attack the party CMs who have brought curbs on performing Chhath Puja in their respective states?” he asked.