The Maharashtra government's refusal to reopen places of worship even in its latest relaxations announced on Wednesday has drawn flak from BJP leaders. On Thursday, BJP MLA Ram Kadam questioned the rationale of not allowing the people to enter religious places at a juncture when their normal life has resumed with a significant dip in COVID-19 cases. He also lambasted the Uddhav Thackeray-led government for purportedly prioritizing the sale of liquor over religion. Moreover, Kadam warned that he along with other leaders of the saffron party will forcefully enter the Siddhivinayak temple on August 17 if places of worship are not thrown open to the public by then.
BJP legislator Ram Kadam remarked, "Many days have elapsed since the Maharashtra government has given permission to open liquor shops. Now, they have given permission to open beer bars as well. People have started to resume their normal life in Mumbai as well as Maharashtra. If you can open liquor shops and beer bars, why can't you open religious places?"
"Why are you so opposed to places of worship? People will have no issues if you reopen places of worship with restrictions. The holy month of Shravan is going on. If the Maharashtra government doesn't open religious places, we will offer prayers at the Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai on the coming Tuesday. The Maharashtra government won't be able to stop us," he added.
Since the commencement of the pandemic, the BJP and the ruling MVA have regularly clashed over the closure of religious places. While the Ministry of Home Affairs permitted the reopening of religious places in India from June 8, 2020, onwards, the Maharashtra government decided against implementing this relaxation owing to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Eventually, people were allowed to enter places of worship from November 16 until the second wave of the novel Coronavirus this year.
Amid BJP's demand to reopen places of worship, Thackeray has consistently argued that the primary responsibility of his government is to safeguard the lives of the people. On the other hand, former CM Devendra Fadnavis has highlighted the dire impact of this decision on the temple economy which includes flower sellers, those selling pooja materials, tea vendors, etc. At present, there are 68,018 active novel coronavirus cases in Maharashtra while 61,66,620 patients have recovered and 1,34,364 deaths have been reported. So far, a total of 4,77,88,675 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the state.