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Chhath ahead,parties gear up to woo city’s Purvanchali voters

Political parties are preparing to court the most significant electorate in the national capital — Purvanchalis — during the two-day annual Chhath Puja.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | New Delhi | Published: November 5, 2013 12:08:09 am

With elections just a month away,political parties are preparing to court the most significant electorate in the national capital — Purvanchalis — during the two-day annual Chhath Puja.

But with the model code of conduct in place,major political parties are quick to insist that they do not mix religion and politics,even as the Congress,BJP and AAP admit that they will be involved in the Chhath Puja festivities as “part of society”. The BJP has even promised to declare Chhath Puja a public holiday if voted to power,while the Congress is racing to ensure adequate facilities at ghats along the Yamuna,canals and other water bodies.

Chhath Puja will be celebrated over two days on November 8 and 9.

Sources in all the parties admit that Purvanchalis are the largest block of voters in the national capital.

“Purvanchalis comprise around 40 per cent of the electorate in Delhi and are present in almost every constituency. They can easily swing votes in at least 30 constituencies in Delhi,” a senior political observer said.

Delhi Congress president J P Agarwal insisted that the Congress did not use such festivals for political purposes. “The Congress does not indulge in such politics. We have formed a committee only to oversee preparations for Chhath Puja and to facilitate a safe festival,” Agarwal said.

This time,even the AAP cannot afford to ignore Chhath Puja. While they refused to comment on whether this was a “political” move,members of the AAP said they would participate in Chhath Puja celebrations. Manish Sisodia,party leader and candidate from Patparganj,said,“As members of society,we will participate in these cultural and social activities. Leaders of the party have been involved in such functions even in previous years in their individual capacities,and will continue to do so.”

Party sources confirmed that respective candidates will visit puja programmes in their localities and some were also helping in the arrangements.

Meanwhile,Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel on Monday said his party would declare Chhath Puja a public holiday if it came to power in Delhi. Goel has also written to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to direct the city government to make necessary safety arrangements around water bodies,especially at the ghats along the Yamuna.

In his letter to Jung,the BJP accused the Delhi government of not “making sufficient arrangements” for the festival,which witnesses participation of lakhs of people,especially ‘Purvanchalis’. “Delhi recently witnessed a tragedy during Ganesh Chaturthi festival,when many lives were lost due to the absence of proper safety measures along the Yamuna. The government must ensure that a similar tragedy is not repeated as lakhs of devotees throng the ghats of the Yamuna during Chhath,” Goel said.

According to him,the BJP would deploy a large number of party workers as volunteers at all Chhath Puja ghats. “It was felt that people face a lot of problems during the festival because of the lackadaisical approach of the Congress government,” he said.

Goel said the administration should have planned special measures to control crowds along the roads leading to the ghats. “I have asked the mayors of the three BJP-ruled civic bodies to take measures to provide facilities for devotees observing Chhath Puja in the areas under their jurisdiction,” he said.

Meanwhile,the Revenue department of the Delhi government said it had made necessary arrangements for Chhath Puja. “We have put up barriers at places where the water is deep. Tents have been erected for people who want to stay overnight,and health facilities and public address systems have also been provided,besides security arrangements at 72 points,” an official said.

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