With the Brihan-mumbai Municipal Corporation election around the corner political parties are trying every trick in the book to lure voters. The recent Supre-me Court verdict capping the height of human pyramids to 20 feet for Dahi Handi festival has not gone well with Shiv Sena and MNS. Both these parties had expressed their strong displeasure over the court verdict and they are planning to celebrate the festival as usual. Thus Sena and MNS are defying the apex court order to please their vote banks. Dahi Handi is a festival in which youth participates in large numbers and it becomes an opportunity for both these parties to interact with them. Politicians, cutting across party lines, promise crores of rupees as prize money for breaking curd-containing pots which are hung out of reach.
Shiv Sena which is the alliance partner of the BJP is keen to retain control over the BMC this time too. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray wants to ensure that Shiv Sena remains number one party in the state before the 2019 assembly election. Therefore it is necessary for the outfit to maintain its control of Mumbai.
Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare said, “I don’t understand why so many restrictions have been imposed on Dahi Handi festival. One should look the festival as an occasion to celebrate and it is not a dangerous event which claims people’s lives.”
Shiv Sena MLA from Thane, Pratap Sarnaik will be spending more than Rs 50 lakhs as prize money for the Govindas. He said, “Every mandal taking part will be awarded a prize. We want Govindas to come up with unique concepts like traditional dresses or new stunts to bag additional gifts.”
Responding to the apex court’s order Sena mouthpiece Saamna said it was too close to a “Lakshman Rekha”. “Ganeshotsav, Dahi Handi and Navratra festival are all parts of our beliefs. Courts which are now governing us should not cross the Lakshman Rekha at least on these issues,” an editorial in Saamna said.
Today youth belonging to the age group of 20 to 35 comprise around 40 per cent of the electorate and they play decisive role in turning around the fortunes of a political party. Janmashtami is a mega outreach programme for political parties. Both Sena and MNS will attempt to form tall human pyramids for breaking the pot of curd. Earlier MNS Chief Raj Thackeray had said that court should not interfere in festivals which have been happening for years.
“The judiciary should have arrived at a consensus with stakeholders before delivering its verdict. It has been harsh on Hindu festivals and why nobody speaks about loudspeakers being played in loud volume at mosques. Why no action was taken on the issue of children participating in ‘Muharram’,” asked Raj Thackeray.
On the other hand, Dahi handi organisers will challenge the Supreme Court directive restricting the age limit of participants to 18 years and height of human pyramids to 20 feet. Jai Jawan Govinda Pathak team from Jogeshwari will file fresh petition to challenge the court order on Wednesday.