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Vinayagar Chaturthi caught in a political row

Even as the govt has decided not to permit festivities in public, BJP and fringe outfits continue to appeal & threaten

Published: 20th August 2020 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2020 04:00 AM   |  A+A-

Usually, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated at over 500 small and large pandals across the Twin City.

Image used for representational purpose only

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In the brewing political discontent between the BJP and AIADMK, the latest ingredient is the tussle over Vinayagar Chaturthi celebrations. While the State government has decided not to permit any festivities in the public, to avoid further spread of Covid, the BJP and fringe outfits continue to appeal and threaten the government.  

As the prohibitory orders are in effect till August 31, the police have informed festival organisers that they would not be permitted to install idols this year. This has come as a big jolt for right-wing organisations that have shaped this festival into an event of public mobilization across the country.  

In Tamil Nadu, the festivities and mobilization around the festival has grown steadily since the nineties, and the Hindu Munnani has played a crucial part in it. Installation of 10-20 feet tall idols, which were not a regular sight in Tamil Nadu until then, became synonymous with the festival as in Mumbai and Hyderabad, accompanied by music, chants, and massive gatherings. 

This year, ahead of a major election, the festivities have been stalled. The BJP, understandably, is upset. H Raja’s statement on Wednesday, in this context, sparked security concerns, as he claimed that the lack of permission had made the festival a “battleground” for Hindus, and called upon the public to gear-up for the festival. 

While the ruling government seems to be viewing these matters as a security and health concern, the a few BJP and its fringe outfit leaders continue to attract unpopular attention. In July, a youngster associated with the Bharat Sena was arrested and booked under the stringent National Security Act for desecrating a Periyar statue.

A week later, a similar attempt was made on the statue of AIADMK founder, MG Ramachandran, in Puducherry. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami termed the act as “shameful and barbaric.” This was followed by controversial statements by BJP’s S Ve Shekhar, who was later booked under the National Honour Act for insulting the Tricolour.         

Subsequently, BJP State General Secretary GKS Selvakumar and few others were charged with violations of prohibitory orders issued under the Epidemic Diseases Act and various other provisions under IPC, for hoisting the Tricolour at the party office in Coimbatore. Combined, these incidents have strained the BJP-AIADMK relations, but its leaders continue to assert all-is-well.

“The organisations have sought just one day to install the idols, but police refused it,” says BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathy. “The decision is unfair and unacceptable.” He, however, maintained that the alliance with AIADMK was intact and there was no strain in the relationship. 

AIADMK spokesperson Vaigai Chelvan attributed the government’s decision to Covid-19 outbreak and rubbished rumours of other motives. “Several festivals have been cancelled during lockdown. Permission for Vinayagar Chuturthi is routine process and it cannot be linked with ideological differences between two parties.”

KMDK urges State government to permit Chaturthi celebrations
Chennai: DMK ally Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi on Wednesday urged the State government to offer permission to celebrate Vinayagar Chaturthi in public places. In a statement, the party’s general secretary ER Eswaran said, it was not logical to deny permission to celebrate the festival when the government has permitted reopening of liquor shops. KMDK is the first party from the DMK-led alliance to voice support with the demand of Hindutva groups on the issue



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