Tamil Nadu C.M. rejects Sangh Parivar leaders’ demand to allow public celebrations of Vinayaka Chaturthi

Published : August 17, 2020 21:10 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/PTI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami appears to be firm on his decision not to allow Vinayaka Chaturthi processions this year. According to a source in the Chief Minister’s office, he made this clear to a team of Sangh Parivar leaders who met him on August 17 and requested him to allow public celebration of Vinayaka Chaturthi on August 22.

BJP State president L. Murugan, Hindu Makkal Munnani State president K. Subramaniyan, and two other leaders met the Chief Minister and reiterated their demand that the government withdraw its order banning the celebrations. They assured the Chief Minister that physical distancing norms would be followed during the celebrations and that the organisers would adhere to any stipulation that the State laid down. This climbdown on the part of the Sangh Parivar outfits comes after the government dealt with a heavy hand a few attempts in the western districts to install Vinayaka idols in public places.

On August 14, the State government announced that it would not allow the installation of idols in public places or their immersion in ponds, lakes and the sea in view of the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the State. Until August 17, as many as 5,886 persons had died of the affliction and there were more than 54,000 active cases in the State.

The Hindu Munnani had condemned the decision of the State government and asserted on August 14 that it would go ahead with its plan to install 1.5 lakh idols in the State. The Hindutva outfit leaders had sought an audience with the Chief Minister soon after they came to know of the government’s thinking on the issue even before it passed the August 14 order. However, the Chief Minister gave audience to them only on August 17.

In view of the pandemic, the government had closed all places of worship, but recently allowed smaller temples to open on condition that they would adhere to safety guidelines. The Chief Minister’s view is that the State will have no problem if the idols are installed in these smaller temples. The idols, however, cannot be installed in public spaces and cannot be taken out in a procession for immersion, he said. He repeated this to the four-member delegation and requested their cooperation in view of the pandemic and the fact that the State was yet to come out of the worst times.

The BJP’s sympathisers and Sangh Parivar elements argue that if the government can open the State-run retail liquor shops in Chennai from August 18, then why is it not allowing a religious celebration. The government’s response is that it has not allowed any such religious celebration, and that if this is done, the fight against the pandemic will be compromised.