'Taking orders from Taliban?': BJP on Maharashtra's Dahi Handi ban
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday slammed the Maharashtra government for banning the popular "Dahi Handi" celebrations on Janmashtami. The Opposition party accused the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance of unfairly imposing COVID-19 restrictions at the time of Hindu festivals. The state government has banned the annual Dahi Handi functions citing the coronavirus pandemic.
'Why are all restrictions imposed on Hindu festivals?'
Ashish Shelar, BJP MLA and its chief whip in the Maharashtra Assembly, said, "Is this government taking orders from Taliban? Why are all restrictions being enforced on Hindu festivals in Maharashtra?" He added that the Shiv Sena, one of the three components of the ruling alliance, is compromising on its "Hindutva" by taking such decisions.
He accused the Shiv Sena of being hypocritical
"A few years ago when the court, responding to public interest litigation, directed the government to restrict heights of the pyramid, there was hue and cry by Shiv Sena," Shelar further said. He was referring to an earlier order by the Bombay High Court to restrict the heights of human pyramids at Dahi Handi functions in the state.
Earlier, BJP leader said they would violate orders
Earlier, BJP leader Ram Kadam had said that they would violate ban orders. "The government has been giving step-motherly treatment to Hindu festivals. They have been allowing celebrations of other religions. We will not tolerate this," he had said. "If the state government, which has been issuing orders by sitting in air-conditioned offices, is not allowing us to celebrate, we will violate the orders."
MNS leaders also objected to the ban on celebrations
Besides the BJP, leaders of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena also objected to the ban on celebrations. "Why should government restrict the festival. We will celebrate ensuring all COVID-19 guidelines. What kind of government is ruling Maharashtra which disallows peaceful festival celebration?," said MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar. Meanwhile, some members of the MNS also held a protest against the government order.
Police stations alert as organizers showed defiance
Many Dahi Handi organizers had indicated that they would go ahead with the celebrations. This led to police stations issuing individual notices to them, warning of action and preventive arrests, TOI reported. Dahi Handi is a cultural sport held to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. Young boys form a human pyramid to break a pot, containing yogurt (dahi), hung at a certain height.
Similar orders issued by the Delhi Police on Janmashtami
Separately, the Delhi Police has also asked people to avoid gatherings and celebrate Janmashtami inside their homes due to COVID-19. The force, which reports to the Union Home Ministry led by the BJP's Amit Shah, warned of action over violations. Hence, BJP's different stance in Delhi and Maharashtra is questionable, if not comical.