Festival season politics: BJP needles Shiv Sena in Thackeray Jr's bastion

Festival


By Quaid Najmi Mumbai, Aug 18 : Apparently poking the Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to hold its major 'dahi-handi' celebrations at the Jambori Maidan in Worli on Friday, which is a Sena stronghold and also the Assembly constituency of the Yuva Sena chief, Aditya Thackeray. Driven out of Jambori Maidan this year, now the Sena plans to hold its revelries at Worli Naka -- with an undeclared competition on who will make it a bigger affair -- likely to be witnessed Friday. Former Nationalist Congress Party leader Sachin Ahir, who joined the Shiv Sena in 2019, used to regularly organise the dahi-handi at Jambori Maidan, which was ranked among the biggest events during the festival in Mumbai. Taking a swipe at the Sena, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar today said that "despite having an MP, MLA, ex-Minister, ex-Mayor and several municipal corporators, the party (Sena) is struggling to get 'loyalty affidavits' on Rs 100 stamp-paper". "They got elected on our strength and then claimed it as their 'bastion'. The pyramid of those who betrayed the 'saffron' has started crumbling, they are now rattled and their tiers will collapse in Worli," said Shelar sarcastically, targeting its former ally. Hitting back, Ahir said if they (Shelar and BJP) are so obsessed with Worli, then he should change the constituency and contest from Worli, and the people here will show them their level in the elections. Aditya Thackeray said Worli has suddenly become the beloved of the BJP and they are welcome to organise their celebrations, but the people of the constituency know 'the traitors' and will teach them a lesson soon. After Ahir's NGO Sankalp Pratisthan stopped organising dahi-handi at Jamboree Maidan in 2015, Sena MLA Sunil G. Shinde took over in 2019, but this year the BJP beat it in securing permission for the ground. MLA Shinde said that the Jambori Maidan was recently given a Rs 2.50 crore facelift from the funds sanctioned by Aditya Thackeray and former CM Uddhav Thackeray, to convert it into a sports centre. Many locals were against the dahi-handi celebrations in Jambori Maidan as it could damage the new facilities added there, hence the Sena will organise its event at the neighbouring Worli Naka, he averred. With the tag-line of 'We Are Determined', the BJP plans to organise more than 300 big and small dahi-handi bashes across Mumbai to counter the Sena's events and make inroads into the latter's traditional political bases, ahead of the civic polls. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakhs for each 'Govinda', though the Sena has expressed doubts over how the belated scheme will be implemented. Similarly, CM Shinde and his MP son Dr. Shrikant Shinde will be organising a series of dahi-handi events in Thane, while Sena MP Rajan Vichare will organise at Jambhali Naka in Thane city. Usually linked with the Sena in Mumbai, the festivities will undergo a metamorphosis this year with BJP planning to aggressively organise human pyramid events in all wards of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, plus other major public venues, ahead of the civic polls. The dahi-handi celebrations will be a trailer to the upcoming biggest public festival of Maharashtra, the 10-day Ganeshotsav -- another Sena speciality -- which will be celebrated with full vigour in 2022 after two years of the pandemic restrictions, between August 31-September 9). This will be followed by the BJP-dominated nine-nights Navratri festival from September 26-October 5, with the political fireworks predicted to take place along with Diwali revelries in the last week of Oct. (Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: q.najmi@ians.in) /IANS




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