Northeast Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari Friday demanded that authorities allow Chhath Puja celebrations to be held at ghats in the capital and said he would defy orders if permission is not given.
“When everything is returning to normalcy, then if Arvind Kejriwal does such a conspiracy, we will show him by celebrating Chhath Puja that we can’t be stopped,” Tiwari said, addressing a gathering of members of the Chhath Puja Samiti Friday.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had Thursday issued guidelines saying that no Chhath celebrations will be allowed at public places and riverbanks in the national capital, and fairs and food stalls will not be permitted during festivals. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal is the chairperson of the DDMA.
“You must have seen that weekly markets have started opening. Big programmes are also being held. People have started defeating Covid due to PM Narendra Modi’s free vaccine,” Tiwari said.
“In other states, Chhath Puja, Durga Puja and Ramlila is being held properly… if someone stops Chhath Puja just in Delhi, then his intentions are not clear,” he said.
Chhath Puja is tied to politics in the capital – the festival is celebrated by Purvanchalis, who constitute over 30% of the city’s population. People from Eastern UP and Bihar are believed to be in the majority in 16 of 70 Assembly seats, as per a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
Before the pandemic, both the AAP-led Delhi government and BJP’s MCD leaders would spend large sums on Chhath ghat preparations.
Perceived as a Congress vote bank earlier, Purvanchali voters shifted to AAP in large numbers during the 2015 Assembly elections when 13 leaders with a Purvanchal background had won. In 2016, the BJP had appointed Tiwari, who comes from Bihar, as state president of the Delhi unit – till then dominated by Punjabi and Bania leaders – to attract these voters.