With the crucial Mumbai civic polls three months away, the ruling BJP is trying hard to woo the masses and the latest on the block is the Chhath Puja, which the party plans to celebrate on a grand scale on Sunday.
The is aimed at wooing Biharis, for whom Chhath Puja is one of the major events and who are part of the city’s north Indian community, the second biggest one in Mumbai after Maharashtrians. “It will be a grand celebration and we have been doing it for years,” said Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will grace the function at Juhu chowpatty.
The Congress has condemned the BJP saying the event smacks of political opportunism. “It is a political stunt as the BJP just thinks of celebrating such events when the elections are near. This happened in 2013 and 2014 just before the elections and now with an eye on the BMC elections,” said Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
Nirupam, who is one of the pioneers of starting the festival in Mumbai, said he has been celebrating it in an apolitical manner under the banner of Bihar front. “We have been celebrating it for the last 15 years without giving any political speeches,” he said.
The Chhath Puja has been a controversial event and this reached the crescendo in 2008 when the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray opposed the celebration on the grounds that it was more of flexing the muscles by the Bihari migrants than any religious event. However over the next few years, the MNS did not raise the issue.