Elaborate arrangements for grand Chhath celebrations in DelhiUpdated: Oct 31, 2019, 21:09 IST
Chhath Puja is set to be a grand celebration in the national capital this year. While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has made arrangements for devotees in as many as 1,108 spots in the Yamuna riverbed and near artificial water bodies, up from 72 such spots in the previous years, Bharatiya Jana Party’s (BJP) Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari inspected several ghats on a motor boat covering a six-kilometre stretch in the Yamuna.
Chhath Puja is a major festival in regions that include Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Migrants from these states are popularly referred to as Purvanchalis in Delhi and political parties estimate that they form around 30% of Delhi’s voting population currently. The four-day Chhath festival began on Thursday and on the last two days, devotees perform rituals and offer evening and morning ‘arghyas’ (offerings) to the Sun god by taking a dip in a river or other water bodies.
“We have made grand arrangement for devotees this year. To ensure that they do not have to walk long distances to conduct rituals, we have made arrangements in 1,108 ghats, up from 72 previously,” said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Government officials and civil defence volunteers deployed near ghats will encourage devotees not to use firecrackers and plastic during the four-day festival.
Tiwari, on the other hand, urged employees in the BJP-led municipal corporations in the city and residents of Delhi to also volunteer in cleaning the Yamuna after the Chhath rituals are over.
Delhi revenue minister Kailash Gahlot on Thursday also inspected arrangements in a few ghats. “1,108 is a record number... The facilities in the arrangement include electricity connections, drinking water, mobile toilets, tents, loud speakers and first aid facility,” said a statement issued by the minister’s office.
On Thursday, Tiwari accused the AAP of politicising the Chhath to woo Purvanchali voters in the city. “Delhi has always witnessed grand Chhath Puja. The AAP is misleading people by claiming that they are the ones making the grand celebrations possible.”
Reacting to the allegation, AAP’s spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said, “He [Tiwari] should remember that while the BJP has only misled Purvanchalis in Delhi, it is only the AAP government that has worked towards increasing Chhath ghats in the city. The BJP-led municipal corporations have only created obstructions.”
At one of the Chhath Puja spots in Kalkaji, BJP and AAP workers sparred over digging an artificial pond for conducting the rituals, following which several AAP MLAs led by Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh staged a protest.
“There is a designated Chhath venue 100 metres away from the disputed area. There was some issue regarding permission, which the AAP leaders did not apply for. They had to do a drama,” said BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
The AAP dismissed the allegations. “In the same plot, people have been celebrating Chhath for years. The BJP is misleading people,” said Bharadwaj.