Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday appealed to rival leaders to “not do politics” over Chhath Puja, even as he asserted that the restrictions imposed on its celebrations at riverbanks and other public places were for the safety of people amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The AAP supremo also urged that leaders of other parties should instead join the efforts of the government in raising awareness on the risks of the coronavirus infection spread involved, if large number of people enter into water bodies.
“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 medium of water,” he told reporters.
Delhi units of both the BJP and the Congress have demanded that Chhath Puja celebrations be allowed in the national capital.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in its order on Thursday prohibited Chhath Puja celebrations at public places, including riverbanks and temples, in view of COVID-19. Chhath Puja was prohibited at public places in Delhi last year as well in view of the pandemic.
Chhath Puja, a four-day festival, is celebrated in Delhi largely by people hailing from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh or “Purvanchalis”. It has been considered an important vote-bank by all major parties here. This year, it falls early November.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari alleged on Friday that Kejriwal had “insulted” lakhs of Purvanchalis in Delhi by banning Chhath Puja celebrations in the city.
Mr Tiwari, who held a meeting with Chhath Puja committees at his residence here, said he will be forced to stage a “massive protest” along with Purvanchalis (people of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh settled in Delhi), if the ban was not lifted.
“I appeal, with folded hands, to the leaders in other parties, to not politicise the issue, not do politics over it. They should, instead join the efforts of the government on raising awareness on safety of people amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Kejriwal said on Saturday.