Pune: The Republican Party of India (RPI-A), an important ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), is not happy with the way the latter is celebrating the 125th year of the Ganesh festival in the city, as religious rituals like maha-arti have been planned by PMC at the cost of taxpayers’ money.
As a part of commemorating 125 years of the public celebration of Ganesh festival in Pune, the PMC has planned a series of events to promote the festival at the national and international level. A monetary provision of Rs 2 crore has been made.
However, instead of making the festival more popular among tourists and foreigners, the ruling BJP is engaged in pushing its communal agenda by introducing religious rituals in PMC-organised events.
Announcing a public maha-arti of city deity Kasba Ganapati on August 22, Mayor Mukta Tilak said the special maha-arti will be attended by renowned artists, musicians, singers, film directors, producers and theatre personalities, etc. “The maha-arti has been conceptualised by Standing Committee Chairman Muralidhar Mohol. The event will be attended by district Guardian Minister Girish Bapat,” Tilak said.
As Tilak was making the announcement, RPI (A) leader and Deputy Mayor Dr Siddharth Dhende, who was sitting by her side, appeared upset, as he didn’t approve of performing religious rituals in PMC-run events. When Sakal Times pointed out to Tilak that a religious ritual is not allowed at the cost of tax payers money under the set rules, she did not reply to this.
On the sidelines of the press conference, Dr Dhende, who is an ardent Ambedkarite, commented on Mayor Tilak leaving the press conference hurriedly. He said he does not agree with the way BJP is celebrating the 125th year of Ganesh festival. “In fact, I am observing that the civic body is steadily taking a communal stand on the Ganesh festival,” Dhende said.
He said he differs with the ruling BJP introducing the religious rituals in the PMC-organised events.