The Congress in Madhya Pradesh will install idols of Lord Ganesha at its offices across the state, kicking off a new practice of celebrating major Hindu festivals in an effort to counter a perception that the party favours minorities.
The decision to hold the 10-day Ganesha puja in not only its headquarters in the city but also all its district offices came in the wake of a report by senior Congress leader AK Antony which suggested that one of the reasons for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha election was the perception among voters that the party favoured minorities.
While the Congress leaders tried to play down this change publicly, they privately accepted that the decision on celebrating Ganesha festival has been communicated to all the district chiefs.
However, Congress spokesperson Sangeeta Sharma said, "This shouldn’t be seen as something new. After all, it was none other than the great Balgangadhar Tilak who had started Ganeshotsava on a large scale."
Another Congress leader said, "Earlier too, a figurine of Lord Ganesha was installed in a room in the PCC office."
He added, "Now, a big idol will be installed at the PCC office in Bhopal and at all its offices."
Talking to HT, state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said, "The Congress is a secular party and we respect all faiths. All festivals, like Holi, Diwali and Dussehra are celebrated and ‘iftaars’ are hosted during Ramzan."
"It is our tradition and we will celebrate festivals of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and all other major faiths. We will celebrate festivals of all communities in future too," he said.