Siddhivinayak Temple
Siddhivinayak Temple
Bhushan Koyande

Shiv Sena Member of the Parliament (MP) Sanjay Raut attacked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for claiming that the reopening of temples was a victory of Hindutva. Instead, he said that the decision to close these places was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi because of the COVID-19 pandemic and it had nothing to do with Hindutva.

Raut was reacting to the statements made by the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar and BJP legislator Ram Kadam. "The SOPs drafted by the government need to be followed strictly. There is no need to take credit. It was God's will that people stay at home, and now it is God's will that places of worship reopen with precautions," Raut said.

To a question on the BJP saying that reopening of temples was a victory of Hindutva, he said not just temples, all places of worship will open. "This is not a victory or defeat of anybody," Raut said.

He strongly defended the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government's decision to allow temples to reopen from Monday by strictly adhering to the COVID-19 norms.

Kadam had said the state government took the decision after immense pressure from the opposition and citizens. On the other hand, Darekar said there was no reason for BJP to take credit for the reopening of temples. It was the government's decision taken following strong pressure from Hindutva organisations and others. He clarified that BJP had supported their demand for an early reopening of temples.

Deputy Chairperson of the Legislative Council Dr Neelam Gorhe said the government had introduced a lot of curbs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, with the slide in positive cases, the state government has decided to allow temples to reopen. “The temple trustees and devotees will have to follow the standard operating procedures and ensure people do not gather,” she noted.

Shiv Sena and BJP had clashed over the issue of reopening of temples. Furthermore, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had recently engaged in a verbal duel pertaining to this issue. The former, in a letter, had asked the CM whether he, as a strong votary of Hindutva, had turned secular. The CM had retorted that his Hindutva did not require a certificate of authenticity and that the government would decide on the reopening of temples after ‘careful consideration’.

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