I am not opposed to 'Chhat' puja in Maharashtra: Raj | india | Hindustan Times
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I am not opposed to 'Chhat' puja in Maharashtra: Raj

Earlier this year, the MNS chief had publicly criticised 'Chhat' puja celebrations, alleging that north Indian politicians were out to show strength in Mumbai, reports Naresh Kamath.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2008 19:49 IST
Naresh Kamath

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray on Friday said he was not opposed to the celebrations of Chhat Puja by north Indians in Mumbai but to the politicization of the festival.

One day I will be in power, Raj says

Raj Thackeray criticised the government for downgrading his security calling it a politically motivated decision. He has refused to take downgraded security cover and is guarded by his own partymen. He warned the ruling parties that governments keep on changing.

“Tomorrow even my turn may come,” warned Thackeray. He said that it was strange that security of leaders was increased when Babri was razed and also Narendra Modi’s security was enhanced after the Godhra incident.

“I was never opposed to any religious festival but to the display of political strength,”Thackeray said at a press conference which was taken by him despite a gag order by the Mumbai police and the Bombay High Court.

His latest stand on Chhat Puja—a festival to worship Sun celebrated by north Indians--is a diluted version of his tirade he launched against north Indians earlier this year. That time, Thackeray had said that Chhat Puja would not be allowed in Mumbai. However, on Friday he blamed the media for the misinformation.

He said he used to be a frequent visitor to the Durga puja and Ramleela functions organized at Shivaji Park. “Majority of people who attended Ramleela were from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and I has no problems with them. However, the recently organized Chhat Pujas were just political events aimed for show of strength,” he added. He also termed the shows as rajakiya nautankis (political drams).

However, he appealed to the MNS cadre to stay calm and not resort to any kind of violent acts during the festival.

The Chhat Puja will be celebrated on November 4. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who took a strong stand against the MNS agitation following pressure from New Delhi--was target of Thackeray’s attack.

He alleged that Deshmukh had failed to stop the influx of ``outsiders’’into Mumbai and turned the outsiders as vote banks.

“I have no expectations from Deskmukh as he survives on the crumbs thrown by Delhi,”remarked Thackeray.

Thackeray, who did not sound apologetic over violent agitations by his followers, was also critical that he had been singled out for his attack on North Indians. “They have been attacked in Assam, Manipuar and even the Delhi Chief Minister have criticized them. Only when I talk, the prime minister takes notice,”he said.

He also jumped to defend the Mumbai police over killing of Bihari youth Rahul Raj who was shot for brandishing a revolver in the BEST bus recently.

“Did the police know that he was from Bihar when they killed him? The police had to take steps to stop the situation from going out of hand,” he said.