Shiv Sena hits out at BJP over demand to reopen temples

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The Shiv Sena on Monday targeted the BJP for seeking reopening of temples in Maharashtra amid the COVID-19 crisis, and asked whether the NDA constituent will take responsibility if there is an “explosion” of coronavirus cases again.

The opposition BJP in Maharashtra last week staged protests outside temples in parts of the state, demanding reopening of the places of worship.

Noting that Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had said people understand how to observe social distancing when temples are reopened, the Shiv Sena countered him referring to the “flouting of the norms” during his party’s protest.

Therefore, the opposition leaders should first understand the situation in Maharashtra before raising the demand, it said.

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“Will the opposition party take responsibility if there is an explosion of COVID-19 again?” the Sena asked in an editorial of party mouthpiece Saamana.

It wondered whether the BJP’s protest was “religious or political”, and said opposition leaders should first try to understand why temples had to be shut.

“The COVID-19 has spread wherever schools and places of worship were reopened. Tirupati Balaji temple has been hit due to it,” the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.

It said scores of families in the Kashmir Valley suffered as the Amarnath and Vaishnodevi yatras could not take place due to COVID-19.

Lakhs of people are dependent on temples for their livelihood and the places of worship should be reopened not only for mental peace, but also to ensure they get income, the Marathi publication said.

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“The state’s leader of opposition must first understand the meaning of ‘mental peace’ which he talks about.

For lakhs of people, earning bread and butter is mental peace, while for some attaining power is mental peace,” the Shiv Sena quipped.

“Temples should be reopened, but not for the political mental peace. First ensure people are safe, rest can be seen later,” it said.

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