October 11, 2021 6:25:59 pm
The Delhi BJP Monday said that it would celebrate the Chhath puja (at ghats) and the three corporations (MCDs), all ruled by the party, would make arrangements for it, even as the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has imposed restrictions on celebrations in the open.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said, “I would like to openly declare that we will celebrate the festival and all the preparations would be ensured through corporations.”
Gupta, while addressing a press conference with MP Manoj Tiwari at the party’s Pant Marg office on Monday, said that the celebrations would follow Covid-19 protocols.
The DDMA had 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.
The BJP will be holding a protest Tuesday outside Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s house demanding revocation of the DDMA order.
Tiwari said, “Delhi government has allowed swimming pools to open but banned Chhat puja. People holding Chhath fast only get knee-deep inside water during the festival and Covid guidelines also say that the disease spreads through mouth and nose, not knee.”
Tiwari is holding a yatra in Purvanchal areas to seek people’s feedback on the issue. “The Chhath puja samitis want to hold a festival following all protocols,” he said.
After Tiwari had earlier said that he would defy the orders, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to rival leaders to “not do politics” over Chhath puja. “We also want that life should be back on track, and Chhath puja should be celebrated with much festivities. But, people offer ”arghyas” (to the Sun God) in the evening and the next morning, by entering into a waterbody. But, there is a large risk involved in it, as even if one person is infected with coronavirus, he or she can spread to everyone else around him through the medium of water,” Kejriwal had said.
MP Pravesh Sahib Singh took to Twitter and said, “Arvind Kejriwal has opened the whole of Delhi but when Chhath Puja is coming, then suddenly the Talibani decree was heard that Chhath Puja would be banned. This Kejriwal used to give open exemption in lockdown on Bakrid, Eid. Why Kejriwal ji so much hatred?”
The votebank politics behind the festival
Chhath puja is tied to politics in the capital – the festival is celebrated by Purvanchalis, who constitute over 30 per cent of the city’s population. People from eastern UP and Bihar are believed to be in the majority in 16 of 70 assembly seats in the capital, as per a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
Before the Covid-19 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. The BJP had in 2016 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. Under his leadership, BJP won MCD polls but lost state elections. The elections for the three MCDs are again due early next year.
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