Several Mumbai politicians are doing their bit to ensure that this year’s Ganesh festival is celebrated while following the safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. They have sensitized various mandals, distributed masks, face shields and sanitizers to organisers.
Shiv Sena Parel corporator Sindhutai Masurkar, whose area boasts of a lot of Ganesh Mandals, said he had been helping them with sanitizer stands apart from Pooja kits.
“I am distributing sanitizer stands to all the mandals and also other facilities for them,” Masurkar said before adding, “I have till now distributed 1200 Pooja kits to those residents who bring Ganesh idol at their homes.”
Mumbadevi Congress legislator Amin Patel has started a special free taxi service for all households wishing to bring the idol home as well as for taking it to the immersion spots. “I am giving free masks, face shields as well as customised sanitizers to all the mandals in my area,” said Patel.
BJP Ghatkopar legislator Ram Kadam has been conducting meetings with all the mandals in his constituency. “I am stressing that this year, the festival needs to be restricted to just religious customs and all gatherings should be shunned. Majority of them have subscribed to this,” said Kadam.
This year, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has framed strict rules for the mandals including restricting the size of the idol as well as the number of people taking part in the festivities. In addition, mandals have to adhere to various regulations to avoid crowding.
For years, Ganeshotsava has played an important role in framing both the political and social landscape of Mumbai. It was the Shiv Sena that benefitted the most from the festival. Almost every top Sena leader has headed a Ganesh mandal in the past.
However, now, every political party is seen currying favour with the mandals.
According to political analyst Surendra Jondhale, no politician can afford to antagonise the mandals. “The politicians need to keep the mandals happy and are hence patronising them. These mandals play an important role during the election process by campaigning for them and connecting them to the voters,” said Jondhale.