Faced with criticism from opposition parties and a PPCC member over not greeting people on Mahashivratri, the state government hurriedly issued advertisements in this regard to the electronic media on Friday.
AAP MLA Aman Arora, former BJP minister Anil Joshi and Congress leader from Garhshanker and member of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Nimisha Mehta criticised the government for not releasing any advertisement offering greetings on the occasion of Mahashivratri in any newspaper or electronic media channel.
While Arora wrote a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh saying the sentiments of the Hindus have been hurt, Joshi said that the Congress government is anti-Hindu.
Congress leader Mehta too released a statement saying Hindu community comprises 38 per cent of the total population of Punjab and Hindus reside mainly in urban areas. “It’s only because of the support of Hindu community that Congress had a sweep in urban seats in 2017 Assembly elections,” she said.
Nimisha said, “No government in Punjab, be it SAD-BJP or Congress, has made any efforts to celebrate any Hindu festival by holding a state- level programme for Krishan Janmashtmi, Ram Navmi, Durga Pooja or Mahashivratri.”
She added that Amarinder had himself performed kar seva at Durgiana Temple in Amritsar, which was a proof of his sentiments for Hindu community and that it was due to the laxity of government officials that no advertisement was issued to wish Mahashivratri.
Arora said that by not wishing the people of the state on the occasion of Mahashivratri, the Punjab government has not lived up to its ‘Rajdharma’. “I treat all religious festivals and all religions on an equal pedestal, but this failure on part of the government has hurt the Punjabis in general and the Hindu community in particular,” said Arora in a statement.
Arora also appealed to the Chief Minister that such mistakes should not be repeated in the future.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Arora said if the state government was cash-strapped, it should not release any such greetings on any religious occasion but if they were releasing it on other festivals then this should be for all religious events. “I attended several religious functions today where the general public brought this anomaly to my notice,” Arora said.
BJP leader Joshi too released a statement saying that the state government splurged crores of rupees on advertisements highlighting every small achievement of it but has not felt the necessity of greeting the Hindu community of the state for a major festival.
However, Director (Public Relations) Anandita Mitra said that Mahashivratri did not fall in the list of festivals for which commemorative advertisements were released. “No advertisement was released in previous years as well. However, as soon as the issue was brought to our notice, we released advertisements on electronic media channels and online portals. In future we shall ensure that all such festivals are included. If anyone’s feelings have been hurt, we regret it,” Mitra said.
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