Politics over Chhath Puja celebrations

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New Delhi–¬†Ahead of MCD polls in Delhi, three political parties — Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (INC) seem to have picked up their political issue to woo Purvanchal community by indulging into a row over Chhath Puja festival.

It all started with a Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order, dated September 30, wherein restrictions were imposed on the celebration of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s prominent festival – Chhath, advising people to observe it at home instead of public places.

BJP’s North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari was the first to take notice. He said that he would defy the DDMA order if people of Purvanchal (eastern end of Uttar Pradesh) are not allowed to celebrate their prominent festival in open. “We are willing to abide by all the Covid-19 norms,” the Bhojpuri actor and singer had said, adding that if the opening of every public space has not led to a rise in Covid cases, how can a festival, which is observed so hygienically, can contribute to the surge in positivity.

In order to gain more traction among the community member, Tiwari also started a ‘Rath Yatra’ to mobilise people for what he termed as a ‘noble cause’. “We will compel Delhi government to listen to our voices,” he had said.

During one such procession in front of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence in Civil Lines, the BJP leader was injured after being hit by a water cannon and hospitalised at Safdarjung hospital.

It was after this that AAP jumped into this religious-cum-political fray with Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia writing to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, asking the latter to issue guidelines for Chhath celebrations in the city.

Thereafter, a slew of letters were exchanged between the state and the Centre involving AAP’s Imran Hussain and Arvind Kejriwal, BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and Delhi Congress’ Anil Chaudhary.

Delhi Congress also demonstrated at Chandgiram Akhara to protest against the ban on the public event, from where the protesters were to march till Kejriwal’s residence, but the police stopped the Congress protesters.

As per 2019 general elections data, Purvanchalis – a term used to describe migrants from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh in Delhi – are nearly a quarter of Delhi’s two crore population.

In 2015 assembly elections alone, the AAP had given tickets to 11 Purvanchalis, while the BJP and the Congress had fielded just three and two Purvanchalis, respectively.

Not only that, but since the Kejriwal party has come into power, it has ensured that Chhath ghats are either made or temporarily set up to enable a smooth celebration of the festival.

Leaders of all the three political parties IANS talked to spoke in favour of Chhath Puja and agreed that the celebrations should be allowed in the capital with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.

Now the onus of Chhath Puja celebrations depend entirel on DDMA which will take a call in its October 27 meeting. (IANS)

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