Will celebrate Chaturthi in full swing, says TDP defying Andhra govt orders
Andhra Pradesh assembly’s main opposition Telugu Desam Party on Tuesday decided to defy orders of the state government disallowing public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi in September, and observe the festival in full fervour.
TDP national spokesperson Pattabi Ram on Tuesday said that party MLAs and in-charges of all 175 Assembly constituencies have been instructed to organise and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in a “huge way” while following Covid-19 protocols. “We feel that it is a part of a larger conspiracy by Jagan Reddy to attack one religion,” he alleged.
A day earlier, on September 6, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Andhra also held state-wide protests demanding the state government to allow public celebrations for the festival. Party leaders, including state president Somu Veerraju, general secretary Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, and others were detained by the police over the agitation. They were released the same day later.
Both, Sudheesh Rambhotla, chief spokesperson for BJP in Andhra, and Pattabi Ram pointed out that the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), led by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, held a big gathering to observe the memorial of Jagan’s father and former chief minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh Y. S . Rajasekhara Ready on September 2, contradicting their current stance on Covid-19 protocol.
The YSRCP called the TDP’s stand on the issue hypocritical. “The decision was taken concerning the third (Covid-19) wave. We took a decision based on the central government’s guidelines. If we would have allowed it, then TDP would have said we are allowing it despite the pandemic, and now they are saying this,” said YSRCP MLA and spokesperson Abbaya Chowdary Kothari.
Kothari pointed out that the BJP-ruled neighbouring state Karnataka has also placed restrictions on the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. “From our perspective, we are not trying to dictate anything to anyone. Everyone will celebrate the festival, but we don’t want massive rallies or public gatherings. Why are the TDP and BJP not questioning the centre on this?” he said.
Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy opined that the TDP is in a “clueless” position in the state currently because the BJP is trying to take over the main opposition space. “On these issues, the BJP is taking an aggressive stance. The Telugu Desam is struggling as it cannot do too much Hindutva, which will benefit the YSRCP. The former will have to identify issues which are not religiously sensitive,” he added.
Chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy held a review meeting on September 2 and decided to continue the night curfew in AP from 11 pm to 6 am, owing to the festival season. Based on suggestions from health department officials, the government also decided to limit Ganesh (or Vinayaka) Chathurti celebrations within homes instead of public places.
The Andhra government decided that Ganesh idols cannot be installed in public places and that immersions this year, along with processions, should be avoided. Before this, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla August 28 issued guidelines to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories informing them that Covid-19 guidelines have been extended till September 30.
In his letter to the chief secretaries, Bhalla stated that state governments and Union Territory administrations have been advised to take suitable measures to avoid large gatherings during the coming festive season. He added that if required, local restrictions may be imposed to curb such large gatherings. “In all crowded places, Covid appropriate behaviour should be strictly enforced,” he wrote in his letter.
Ganesh Chaturthi, which falls on September 10, is widely observed in cities like Bombay and Hyderabad, wherein people gather in large numbers to immerse idols in lakes or other water bodies. Many also install Ganesh idols which are set up in public pandals. While not as widespread in AP, it is also observed similarly by a section of people every year in cities and districts.
As of September 6, AP reported 739 new cases, taking the tally to 2,022,064. Over the last fortnight, the case tally of Covid-19 in the state have been around 1,000 marks per day on average.