The ruling Shiv Sena on Sunday (November 15) slammed the BJP for claiming the reopening of places of religious worship in Maharashtra was a “victory of Hindutva”. The party said it was “not a victory or defeat of anybody”.
“The lockdown was imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the decision to shut temples was also taken by him. There is no reason for the BJP to take credit for the victory of Hindutva as the decision was taken amid the COVID pandemic,” Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
News agency ANI quoted BJP MLA Ram Kadam as saying that the Uddhav Thackeray government had “taken this decision (to re-open places of worship) after immense pressure” by the opposition party.
“The SOPs drafted by the government need to be followed strictly. There is no need to take credit. It was god’s will that people stay at home, and now it is god’s will that places of worship reopen with precautions,” Raut said. “This is not a victory or defeat of anybody.”
On Saturday, Chief Minister Thackeray announced that places of worship will reopen from Monday. They have been shut since March due to the pandemic.
“We can’t forget that the demon coronavirus is still amongst us. Even though this demon is slowly falling silent now, we cannot be complacent. Citizens need to follow discipline,” the chief minister said.
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“Just like discipline and restraint were observed while celebrating Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri and Pandharpur wari (annual pilgrimage), followers of other faiths also celebrated festivals like Eid, Mount Mary festival by keeping the COVID-19 safety protocol in mind,” he added.
Thackeray said the reopening of places of worship was the wish of the almighty. “Crowding will have to avoided. The reopening of religious places is not a government order, but the wish of the almighty.
“Shoes will have to kept outside the premises and wearing masks is mandatory…If we follow discipline, we will get god’s blessings,” he said.
During his last webcast address to citizens, Thackeray had said that SOPs were being prepared and the decision on reopening of these places will be taken after Diwali.
The issue had also led to a stand-off between Thackeray and governor B S Koshyari, who asked if the Shiv Sena president had “turned secular”.
The governor’s letter to the chief minister was criticised by constituents of the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government.
(With inputs from PTI)