Mumbai: In a veiled swipe at BJP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said “Ashirvad” rallies are being organised despite the threat of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic “which is putting the lives of people in danger”.
Speaking virtually after inaugurating an oxygen plant set up by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik in Thane, the CM said “these people do not seem to care if some people die due to such rallies”.
Newly-appointed Union ministers of BJP recently organised “Jan Ashirwad” rallies to take blessings of people.
As Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) defied the ban and tried to hold Dahi Handi celebrations in Mumbai and Thane on Tuesday, Thackeray said the MVA government was not against any festivals but only fighting against coronavirus.
“There is the threat of a third wave of Covid-19 but some people are still organising ”Ashirwad” rallies. They are not seeking blessings from the people but they are in fact putting the lives of the people in danger,” said Thackeray, who heads Shiv Sena.
He said when Sena was formed it was announced that the party will do 80 per cent social work and 20 per cent politics.
“But today there are parties in the country that are 100 per cent into politics. They do not want to do any work that will benefit the people but they are organising rallies and events that would put their lives in danger,” he said.
“These people do not seem to care if some people die due to such rallies,” said Thackeray.
Thackeray also said that he was missing the excitement of Dahi Handi due to restrictions, which do not allow public celebrations of the festival.
Dahi Handi festival or ”Gopalkala” is celebrated a day after Janmashtami marking the birth of Lord Shrikrishna.
“I must admit that I am missing the excitement of Dahi Handi and the celebrations for the last couple of years. I had personally attended some such events in the past,” Thackeray recalled.
MNS celebrated the traditional ”Dahi Handi” festival in Thane and the neighbouring Palghar district, even though the celebrations have been banned in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A case was registered against four activists of the Raj Thackeray-led party and eight others for violating COVID-19 norms by holding a “Dahi Handi” programme in the Worli area of central Mumbai on Tuesday and two workers were arrested, police said.
The CM said the MVA government was not against any festival but fighting against Covid-19.
“It (the pandemic) is not a state (sponsored) programme. Everyone has to follow the guidelines during social life that are common across the world,” he said.
Thackeray said even the Union government has asked States to take precautions during festivals.
“One needs to replicate the kind of fight MLA Pratap Sarnaik is putting up against the COVID-19 pandemic (by erecting oxygen generation plant), but unfortunately, it is not happening. Such maturity is not seen in some people. By behaving immaturely, these people are posing a risk to the lives of others,” he said.
MLA Pratap Sarnaik has organised a “Health Utsav” instead of the Dahi Handi festival this year.
“This is not a fight for Independence of the country. Here, lives of people are at stake,” the chief minister said, apparently referring to public rallies and other events organised by BJP in Maharashtra.
Thackeray said he wanted to show the Union government’s letter to States asking people to avoid crowding during the festive season, “especially to those who want to organise agitations at public places”.
“Agitations are being held in defiance of the COVID-19 safety regulations. If you want to do any agitation then do it against coronavirus,” he added.