New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday urged Lt Governor Anil Baijal to allow Chhath puja celebrations in Delhi as the Covid situation in the city is under control, prompting the latter to call a DDMA meeting to discuss the ban on the celebration of the festival at public places.
The development comes amid a sharp attack on the Kejriwal government and protests by the Delhi BJP over the Chhath ban.
In an order issued on September 30, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) prohibited Chhath celebrations at public places, including at riverbanks, water bodies and temples, in view of the threat posed by COVID-19.
In his letter to the LG, Kejriwal said the Covid situation in Delhi has been under control for the last three months and he believes that permission to celebrate Chhath should be given with suitable protocols in view of the pandemic.
“I have urged Hon’ble LG to allow Chhath puja celebrations in Delhi. Corona is now in control and many other states have allowed it,” he wrote on Twitter while sharing his letter to Baijal.
Neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan have also given permission for Chhath celebrations with reasonable restrictions for the health and safety of people, Kejriwal said in his letter.
“I urge you to kindly call a meeting of the DDMA as soon as possible and grant permission for Chhath puja celebrations,” he wrote to Baijal, adding that the people of Delhi celebrate Chhath every year and the festival is an important part of the Vedic Arya culture.
Later, sources in the LG Secretariat said that the chief secretary has been asked to convene a meeting of the DDMA to take a decision on the issue.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, who has started a ‘Chhath Rath Yatra’ in Delhi’s Purvanchali-dominated areas against the Chhath ban, wrote to Kejriwal on Wednesday, accusing him of hurting the sentiments of Hindus.
The Purvanchalis (Bhojpuri-speaking natives of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) living in Delhi are considered a prominent vote bank in the national capital and Chhath is one of their most important festivals.
Taking a dig at Kejriwal on Thursday over his letter to the LG, Tiwari said stubbornness has yielded to faith.
“Jai Chhathi Maiya… stubbornness yields to faith. Did you not remember the story that you have narrated in the letter today while imposing restrictions? Anyway, better late than never, let us celebrate Chhath together… All of us will celebrate Chhath at the ghats in a disciplined manner following the Covid norms,” Tiwari said in a tweet in Hindi.
Earlier, the chief minister had said that Chhath celebrations were prohibited at public places in view of the health and safety of people amid the pandemic. He had also slammed the protests by the BJP as “dirty politics” over a sensitive issue.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had written to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya earlier this week, seeking clarity over Chhath celebrations in view of Covid and the issuance of guidelines to celebrate the festival.
Chhath, celebrated after Diwali, involves the offering of “Arghya” by fasting women to the Sun god in knee-deep water. Some experts believe that water could lead to the spread of the coronavirus infection when a large number of people celebrate Chhath.