Updated: September 1, 2021 7:54:27 am
After having been on the receiving end of criticism from parties like the BJP and the MNS for its decision to ban Dahi Handi festivities due to the prevalence of Covid-19, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said Tuesday that his government is not “anti-Hindu” and that the steps taken were not against any festival, but to curtail the spread of the virus.
Appearing at a virtual event for the inauguration of two oxygen plants in Thane, the chief minister reminded the people of the Union government’s warning regarding a possible third wave of the coronavirus. “Those who are saying that our government is ant-Hindu, I want to show them a letter from the Centre which specifically asks to avoid crowding during Dahi Handi and Ganesh festival. The government is not against any festival, but is against the coronavirus. So those who want to agitate should protest against coronavirus,” he said.
“Some people have celebrated Dahi Handi. But this is not a fight for the country’s independence. What great freedom did they get by breaking Covid norms? Had they agitated for freedom, it would have been different,” said Thackeray, taking a dig at the BJP’s parent organisation which did not contribute to the freedom struggle.
The chief minister said he is aware that people have missed the excitement and celebrations of Dahi Handi. “I still remember the thrill of Dahi Handi, but today we cannot celebrate festivals in huge gatherings,” he said.
Last week, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had written to state Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte advising the state to consider imposing local restrictions for upcoming festivals and mass gatherings including Dahi Handi and Ganesh festival in view of concerns that such gatherings may turn into super-spreader events of Covid-19.
On Monday, the state government issued guidelines stating that no public celebration should be organised. However, over the last few days the BJP and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have turned aggressive in their demands regarding reopening of places of worship and celebrating Hindu festivals.
Thackeray further criticised the BJP for carrying out the Jan Ashirwad Yatra and putting people’s lives in danger. “They won’t care even if people die due to the rallies. They want to take out the rallies amid the threat of the third Covid wave. They don’t want to build any facilities for the public but want to hold rallies and programmes endangering the lives of the people. Why? Because they want the blessings of the people. Do they want blessings to put people’s lives in danger?” he sought to know.
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