Reopening of places of worship: BJP stages protests against Maharashtra government

In Pune, the BJP leaders and party workers held a ghanta-naad (ringing of bells) agitation at Sarasbaug temple
BJP leaders and volunteers along with city MP Girish Bapat (3rd from left) protest against the state government’s lockdown restrictions at Omkareshwar temple on Saturday.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
BJP leaders and volunteers along with city MP Girish Bapat (3rd from left) protest against the state government’s lockdown restrictions at Omkareshwar temple on Saturday.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 30, 2020 04:36 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By

Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Saturday staged an agitation outside temples in Pune and other parts of western Maharashtra, including Shirdi and Kolhapur, demanding reopening of places of worship across the state, which have remained shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Pune, the BJP leaders and party workers held a ghanta-naad (ringing of bells) agitation at Sarasbaug temple.

“The government has allowed liquor shops to function. However, temples and religious places are still closed. This is not acceptable,” said Jagdish Mulik, city party president. Mulik was accompanied by mayor Murlidhar Mohol and legislator Madhuri Misal.

“The state government should allow people to go to places of worship. If the government does not take any decision now, citizens will break the rule on their own and start visiting temples,” said Mulik, adding that the state government is confused and is unaware of how to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Criticising the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government, mayor Mohol said, “The state government must allow reopening of places of worship soon, as almost everything is now limping back to normalcy.”

Over the past few weeks, there has been growing a chorus in the state for reopening of places worship. Besides the BJP, AIMIM Member of Parliament from Aurangabad Imtiaz Jaleel and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar have also threatened to launch an agitation.

Jaleel has threatened to offer prayers inside a mosque on September 2 if the government does not decide on the reopening by September 1. Sensing pressure, Shiv Sena MP in Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut said that the state government is likely to take a call on the issue in the first week of September.

Pune MP Girish Bapat led the agitations by workers in front of Omkareshwar Temple near Balgandharva.

Ruling parties criticised BJP’s agitations, saying that the party is busy fanning flames of religious politics, when the city and state is facing bed shortage and the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Parvati constituency president Nitin Kadam, said, “We had appealed to the BJP to allow immersion tanks near water bodies, but the party did not allow citizens to perform Ganesh immersion in the city. Now, the same party is demanding reopening of temples. This shows their dual stand on the same issue.”

Aam Aadmi Party’s Pune leader Mukunt Kirdat said, “There are many critical issues which the citizens are already facing like job loss, incomplete medical facility, bed shortage and enormous electricity bills. However, instead of addressing such development issues, the BJP is diverting the attention of citizens.”

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