August 24, 2021 1:07:42 am
Residents of Surat’s Navapura Golwad area, angered over the administration’s refusal to allow processions for the upcoming Ganesh Utsav and Navratri festivals due to the pandemic, on Monday said that they will boycott elections if the celebrations are not allowed.
Local resident Kishor Rana said, “Last year, due to the Covid pandemic, we did not have a Lord Ganesha procession. At present, the number of Covid cases has dropped and the situation is under control. The state government has allowed us to install a Ganesha idol of to 4 feet, but the Shobha Yatra has not been allowed. The BJP has organised Jan Ashirwad Yatras for its leaders to seek blessing, but why have they not allowed a procession of the one who gives blessings, Lord Ganesha?”
As part of their protests, residents installed banners on shops and on streets, which read, “Ashirwad leva wala ni yatra nikli shakti hoi to ashirwad apva wala Ganeshji ni pan yatra nikalvi joiye.. Ganesh Utsav and Navratri utsav nahi to vote nahi. (If Ashirwad Yatras can take place then why can’t Lord Ganesh’s procession be held? No vote if no Ganesh and Navratri festivals.)”
Videos of the banners being fixed emerged on social media and went viral.
After news of the banners emerged, local BJP MLA Arvind Rana and several of the party’s councillors went to the area to pacify local residents and convinced them to take down the banners.
The legislator Rana said, “We pacified the anger of the people and brought down such banners. At present, the second wave of Covid has ended and the third wave is yet to begin. The state government is also serious about controlling the third wave… The state government has given permission for a gathering of 400 people at pandals to offer prayers while maintaining social distancing and following Covid SOPs.
“We agree with the sentiments of the public, but no one has a clear idea about how to tackle the third wave. People feel that they have suffered injustice, but we explained the situation to them and convinced them.”
Notably, Navapura Golwad is part of Surat’s Walled City, which is dominated by BJP voters, and is where several major leaders of the saffron party — including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee and former chief minister Anandiben Patel — have held public rallies in the past.
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