Workers and leaders of the opposition BJP on Monday staged protests in several cities in Maharashtra against the MVA government’s stand to not reopen temples as of now, which remain shut due to coronavirus restrictions. At many places, social distancing norms were not adhered to while staging demonstrations. The protests, organised by the Aadhyatmik Aghadi (spiritual wing) of the BJP, were held in Pune, Mumbai, Nashik, Nagpur, Pandharpur, Aurangabad and other places where agitators rang bells and blew conches.
In Pune and Aurangabad, BJP workers tried to force their way into closed temples but were stopped by the police.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil, who led the protest in Pune city, questioned the state government’s rationale behind allowing liquor and other shops to function but not extending the similar relaxation to temples and other places of worship.
“Is fear of a projected third wave of the pandemic doesn’t apply for liquor outlets and other shops? Does coronavirus talk to them (the government) and says it will strike only if temples are reopened ?" Patil asked.
He alleged the ruling Shiv Sena Sena was not allowing temples to reopen to “please its allies- Congress and NCP". In Mumbai, former minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar led a demonstration at the famous Babulnath temple. However, police stopped the protestors from going near the temple.
Mungantiwar told reporters that temples were open in the rest of the country but Maharashtra. Queried about the Central guidelines asking states to ensure that public gatherings are avoided in view of the upcoming festivals, Mungantiwar shot back asking, “Did the Centre ask to allow liquor shops to function and close temples? Did the state government take action against Shiv Sainiks who had protested against Union minister Narayan Rane? Local trains are open for fully vaccinated people. Why the same criterion cannot be applied and temples reopened?"
Meanwhile, activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) staged a protest in neighbouring Thane against the state government’s decision to not allow Dahi Handi celebrations on Tuesday.
Maharashtra Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant, however, lashed out at the BJP saying the saffron party is “playing with the lives of devotees and don’t care for the Central government’s directives".
“People should be cautious and stay away from leaders and workers of the BJP as they may be carriers of coronavirus. Chandrakant Patil and others didn’t wear face masks," he claimed.
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