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Why is Chhath Puja 2021 crucial for the Kejriwal-led Delhi government?

Delhi is due to have Municipal body elections in 2022, which the  BJP has won for decades, AAP needs to make its mark, before next state elections, and ahead of UP elections 2022

Sabrangindia 09 Nov 2021

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Image: PTI


The Delhi government announced a public holiday to celebrate Chhath Puja on November 10, the final day of the festival. They made the announcement on November 5, days before other states in North India such as Bihar, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand declared the day as a public holiday. The Delhi Government, after its public Diwali puja, has taken Chhath Puja, a major religious festival for Hindus from Purvanchal (Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), to be its biggest public celebration project. It celebrates it as the Chhath Mahaparv. 

In fact the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had issued an order last week that the celebration of the festival be done only at a few designated sites except the banks of the Yamuna river. The DDMA had issued a notice on September 30, banning the celebration of Chhath Puja in public places, as Delhi was still recording a considerably high amount of Covid-19 cases at the time. The banks of Yamuna, which recorded dangerously high levels of ammonia, were put out of bounds for Chhath Puja to prevent further contamination of the water and to prevent crowd gathering at one place. However, on 'Nahai Khay', the first day of Chhath, many Delhi based devotees still took a dip in the Yamuna which was covered with a thick layer of toxic foam.

 

 

Instead of expressing concern, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia greeted all Chhath devotees and citizens of Delhi and said, "Chhath Puja is an important festival for the people of NCT of Delhi.” The Delhi government is organising Chhath Puja at about 1,100 places, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Saurabh Bhardwaj had said last week. 


Politics over Chhath Puja

The Politics over Chhath Puja in Delhi had intensified last week with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not letting 'Purvanchalis' prepare 'ghats' required to perform rituals pertaining to the festival. The AAP accused the BJP of playing "dirty politics" over Chhath Puja and letting people celebrate the festival in Delhi. According to news reports AAP legislator Sanjeev Jha said, “if they (BJP) continue playing dirty politics over Chhath Puja, Purvanchalvasi (People who are from Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh) will not forgive them." The BJP hit back, accusing the AAP of trying to create “tension”, and Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor told the media he “appealed to the people to not pay heed to the "provocative statements" of AAP leaders”. He added that the Centre-run Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the BJP-run municipal corporations had been developing 'ghats' for Chhath Puja at "all traditionally identified locations". 


But why is the festival so dear to AAP?

The answer is simple, the national capital has a large population that hails from Purvanchal who live and work in Delhi and celebrate the festival in a major way. They, of course, are a major vote bank in the city that both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have wooed for long. Delhi is also due to have Municipal elections in 2022. In recent Delhi MCD bypolls, the Congress won the Chauhan Banger seat. This gave its state unit chief Anil Kumar the confidence to say, “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a 10 per cent reduction in its vote percentage while the Aam Aadmi Party suffered a 5.50 per cent cut.” Both parties are on an overdrive as Delhi Congress is also working to win the MCD elections to make up for its loss in the last Assembly elections. 

Then there are the most watched state elections that are also due in 2022, especially Uttar Pradesh, which is a BJP stronghold that other parties want to breach. Wooing the Purchanchali population of Delhi is a crucial step in that direction. Sisodia has now claimed, “The Kejriwal government is the only government in the country, which is conducting a divine event of Chhath Puja, the great festival of faith, at 800 ghats”. The Kejriwal government has also made arrangements for various facilities including tents, lights, drinking water, cleanliness, security and organizing programs at the ghats, he claimed adding “before 2015 only 80-90 Ghats used to organize Chhath Puja and only BJP and Congress workers could worship at these Ghats, but after AAP came to power now common people in Delhi ca do so too.”      

 

 

However, many common people are also being harassed. According to senior journalist Neelan Gupta who lives in Vasundhara Enclave on the Eastern corner of Delhi, the local counselor Rajeev Kumar (BJP) has ensured the local park is dug up to prepare for the event. The senior citizen went to the local police to complain and reported that she was gheraoed by a group of women who demanded that the journalist withdraw her complaint. She recalled that they were all supporters of Rajeev Kumar who himself was inside the police station but said he did not know who the women were. The journalist was ‘advised’ by many, and was harassed by the women gathered outside the police station to stay quiet as it was a religious festival and no one could interfere. 


Delhi first state where government organizes Chhath Mahaparv on such scale: AAP

According to the AAP, Delhi “is the first state in the country where the government organizes Chhath Mahaparv on such a large scale.” Sisodia added that Delhi has many Purvanchalis and the “Aam Aadmi Party's government is their government. They have chosen the Aam Aadmi Party so that the grand celebration of Chhath Mahaparv is not limited to workers of only a few parties.” He added that “permission was given to organize public Chhath Puja due to the personal efforts of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal” who appealed to the Lt Governor Anil Baijal on October 14 “demanding permission to organize public Chhath Puja.”

Chhath Puja is dedicated to Surya the sun god, and Chhathi Maiya, and is celebrated over four days and the devout fast and offering the Sun god 'Arghya' early in the morning in knee-deep water. This year the festival started with Nahay Khay on November 08, and with Usha Arghya on November 11, 2021. 

 

Related:

What Adityanath can do, Kejriwal can replicate faster

Can Delhi’s demolished church, and shattered trust be repaired?

Why is Chhath Puja 2021 crucial for the Kejriwal-led Delhi government?

Delhi is due to have Municipal body elections in 2022, which the  BJP has won for decades, AAP needs to make its mark, before next state elections, and ahead of UP elections 2022

chat
Image: PTI


The Delhi government announced a public holiday to celebrate Chhath Puja on November 10, the final day of the festival. They made the announcement on November 5, days before other states in North India such as Bihar, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh or Jharkhand declared the day as a public holiday. The Delhi Government, after its public Diwali puja, has taken Chhath Puja, a major religious festival for Hindus from Purvanchal (Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), to be its biggest public celebration project. It celebrates it as the Chhath Mahaparv. 

In fact the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had issued an order last week that the celebration of the festival be done only at a few designated sites except the banks of the Yamuna river. The DDMA had issued a notice on September 30, banning the celebration of Chhath Puja in public places, as Delhi was still recording a considerably high amount of Covid-19 cases at the time. The banks of Yamuna, which recorded dangerously high levels of ammonia, were put out of bounds for Chhath Puja to prevent further contamination of the water and to prevent crowd gathering at one place. However, on 'Nahai Khay', the first day of Chhath, many Delhi based devotees still took a dip in the Yamuna which was covered with a thick layer of toxic foam.

 

 

Instead of expressing concern, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia greeted all Chhath devotees and citizens of Delhi and said, "Chhath Puja is an important festival for the people of NCT of Delhi.” The Delhi government is organising Chhath Puja at about 1,100 places, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Saurabh Bhardwaj had said last week. 


Politics over Chhath Puja

The Politics over Chhath Puja in Delhi had intensified last week with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not letting 'Purvanchalis' prepare 'ghats' required to perform rituals pertaining to the festival. The AAP accused the BJP of playing "dirty politics" over Chhath Puja and letting people celebrate the festival in Delhi. According to news reports AAP legislator Sanjeev Jha said, “if they (BJP) continue playing dirty politics over Chhath Puja, Purvanchalvasi (People who are from Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh) will not forgive them." The BJP hit back, accusing the AAP of trying to create “tension”, and Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor told the media he “appealed to the people to not pay heed to the "provocative statements" of AAP leaders”. He added that the Centre-run Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the BJP-run municipal corporations had been developing 'ghats' for Chhath Puja at "all traditionally identified locations". 


But why is the festival so dear to AAP?

The answer is simple, the national capital has a large population that hails from Purvanchal who live and work in Delhi and celebrate the festival in a major way. They, of course, are a major vote bank in the city that both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have wooed for long. Delhi is also due to have Municipal elections in 2022. In recent Delhi MCD bypolls, the Congress won the Chauhan Banger seat. This gave its state unit chief Anil Kumar the confidence to say, “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a 10 per cent reduction in its vote percentage while the Aam Aadmi Party suffered a 5.50 per cent cut.” Both parties are on an overdrive as Delhi Congress is also working to win the MCD elections to make up for its loss in the last Assembly elections. 

Then there are the most watched state elections that are also due in 2022, especially Uttar Pradesh, which is a BJP stronghold that other parties want to breach. Wooing the Purchanchali population of Delhi is a crucial step in that direction. Sisodia has now claimed, “The Kejriwal government is the only government in the country, which is conducting a divine event of Chhath Puja, the great festival of faith, at 800 ghats”. The Kejriwal government has also made arrangements for various facilities including tents, lights, drinking water, cleanliness, security and organizing programs at the ghats, he claimed adding “before 2015 only 80-90 Ghats used to organize Chhath Puja and only BJP and Congress workers could worship at these Ghats, but after AAP came to power now common people in Delhi ca do so too.”      

 

 

However, many common people are also being harassed. According to senior journalist Neelan Gupta who lives in Vasundhara Enclave on the Eastern corner of Delhi, the local counselor Rajeev Kumar (BJP) has ensured the local park is dug up to prepare for the event. The senior citizen went to the local police to complain and reported that she was gheraoed by a group of women who demanded that the journalist withdraw her complaint. She recalled that they were all supporters of Rajeev Kumar who himself was inside the police station but said he did not know who the women were. The journalist was ‘advised’ by many, and was harassed by the women gathered outside the police station to stay quiet as it was a religious festival and no one could interfere. 


Delhi first state where government organizes Chhath Mahaparv on such scale: AAP

According to the AAP, Delhi “is the first state in the country where the government organizes Chhath Mahaparv on such a large scale.” Sisodia added that Delhi has many Purvanchalis and the “Aam Aadmi Party's government is their government. They have chosen the Aam Aadmi Party so that the grand celebration of Chhath Mahaparv is not limited to workers of only a few parties.” He added that “permission was given to organize public Chhath Puja due to the personal efforts of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal” who appealed to the Lt Governor Anil Baijal on October 14 “demanding permission to organize public Chhath Puja.”

Chhath Puja is dedicated to Surya the sun god, and Chhathi Maiya, and is celebrated over four days and the devout fast and offering the Sun god 'Arghya' early in the morning in knee-deep water. This year the festival started with Nahay Khay on November 08, and with Usha Arghya on November 11, 2021. 

 

Related:

What Adityanath can do, Kejriwal can replicate faster

Can Delhi’s demolished church, and shattered trust be repaired?

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