It was a virtual show of strength between politicos on the occasion of Chhat Puja on Sunday as they jostled to woo the devotees who thronged Juhu chowpatty. While devotees, majority of them natives of Bihar, were praying, politicians from the BJP and the Congress parties were busy displaying their upmanship. Ahead of the civic polls, Chhat Puja was seen by both Congress and BJP as a means to woo the North Indian community, that holds a considerable sway in Mumbai.
The BJP-affiliated Chhat Puja Mahasangh stuck to tradition by way of holding a yagna, while the Bihar Front consisting of Congress members drew a mammoth turnout as it mixed tradition with glamour. Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kissien and Upasana Singh both performed at the event.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is expected to attend the function early on Monday morning at 5am.
According to Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who heads the Bihari Front, it has become a congregation for Biharis. “We have become a brand and it has become a habit for people to come to our event. Unlike us, the BJP’s event is aimed only at elections,” said Nirupam.
Last week, Nirupam had written to Fadnavis asking him to ensure that the Puja is not hijacked for political gains ahead of the high-stakes BMC polls. According to a high court order, the celebration cannot be held under any political party symbols or banners.
However, Amarjeet Mishra, general secretary of the Mumbai BJP who organises the event, debunked the claim. “We organise it in a religious manner and keep only bhajans. We do not invite celebrities as it spoils the whole atmosphere,” said Mishra. Mishra credits the BJP Government for improving the facilities. “It used to be chaos during the previous years, but now it has become disciplined with good facilities provided by this government,” he added. Mishra had taken a delegation of BJP leaders to meet Fadnavis earlier this week to call for better facilities for lakhs of devotees, who celebrate Chhat Puja.
Chhat Puja is an important event for people from Bihar as they pay obeisance to the sun. In the last few years, with the North Indian population growing in the city, politicos have virtually hijacked the event and this time, the BJP with an eye on the 2017 BMC polls, has made it a grand celebration.