People have the right to celebrate their festivals: Raj Thackeray

A group of boys climbing a ladder to break the dahi handi as a symbolic celebration in Mumbai on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.   | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Launching a frontal attack on the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government for not easing restrictions to allow people to celebrate Dahi Handi and other upcoming festivals, con Tuesday alleged that the three ruling parties were “using” the COVID-19 situation to their benefit.

He said the State government is giving the impression that “everybody loves a good lockdown”.

Speaking to reporters, the MNS chief also accused the government of “selectively” relaxing COVID-19 rules for some people.

“The actions of the Maharashtra government can be summed up in the words of veteran journalist P. Sainath who wrote a book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. The current actions of the State government are like ‘everybody loves a good lockdown’,” the MNS president said after several party workers defied the ban to celebrate the Dahi Handi festival earlier in the day.

A popular event organised during Gokulashtami, “Dahi Handi” programmes draw large crowds.

“BJP ministers can organise Jan Ashirwad Yatras. Sena MLA Bhaskar Jadhav’s son can perform pooja in a temple in Ratnagiri. These incidents mean the State government is conveniently relaxing COVID-19 norms. There are different sets of rules for different people,” he alleged.

MNS workers celebrated Dahi Handi festival in Thane and the neighbouring Palghar district, even though celebrations have been banned due to the pandemic.

Case registered

A case was registered against four MNS workers and eight others for violating COVID-19 norms by holding a Dahi Handi programme in Worli on Tuesday. While two workers were arrested, police said, a search is on to nab the others.

“The arrest of the workers seems like a revenge politics (by the government). No action was taken against any leader of the Maha Vikas Aghadi for participating in public functions where no guidelines regarding the COVID-appropriate behaviour was followed,” he alleged.

The Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress are partners in the MVA government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the estranged cousin of Raj Thackeray.

“Had the Shiv Sena been in opposition, I don’t think it would have acted like this. The three parties are using the COVID-19 situation for their benefit. People have the right to celebrate their festivals,” he said.

Mr. Thackeray also alleged that the State government is creating (the bogey of) the first, second and now the third wave of the pandemic.

“Despite such fear (of transmission of coronavirus), old rivals Shiv Sena and Narayan Rane continued their fights. Does this mean that only festivals spread coronavirus and not political parties?” he questioned.

Queried about complaints filed by the police against MNS workers for celebrating the Dahi Handi festival, he said these cases are like hairs on the body of a bear. Who is going to count them?” He demanded temples in Maharashtra be reopened without delay.

“If the State government wants to implement any strict COVID protocol it should be common for all political parties and organisations. I will hold a meeting with party workers in a couple of days to come up with a strategy to press our demand for the opening of temples,” he added.

Notably, the opposition BJP on Monday staged demonstrations demanding the reopening of temples and other religious places in Maharashtra which remain shut due to COVID-19 norms. PTI ND NSK NSK

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 8:18:51 AM |

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