Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray shot off a stinging letter on Thursday to his cousin and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the Maha Vikas Aghadi government's "reluctance" to reopen temples in the state.
Expressing his 'disappointment and disillusionment' at the MVA government somehow slipping into a standstill mode on certain issues, Raj pointedly said: "I do wonder if the government is in a trance or daze and has turned a deaf ear to the reverent sentiments of Hindus".
Demanding that all the temples in the state must be reopened, failing which the people would ignore the restrictions and "march ahead" to see their God, he warned.
The MNS letter comes two days after the All India Majlis Ittehadul-e-Muslimeen MP Imtiaz Jaleel and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Prakash Ambedkar launched independent agitations to reopen all places of worship in the state.
Raj pointed out that in the ongoing Unlock 1, 2, 3, processes, many norms have been eased, malls reopened and public gatherings up to 100 permitted with a set of protocols.
"Amidst this, the god-loving devotees are still being kept away from their God. Why is there such a resistance to opening up temples?" Raj demanded, suggesting that protocols can be formulated for temples to restart.
He said the people of the state wholeheartedly supported the government's decision to keep all religious places closed in view of the coronavirus pandemic and for all major festivals like Ashaadhi Wari, Janmashtami and Ganeshotsav, the Hindus exhibited tremendous maturity by observing all rules.
Raj argued that reopening temples is not just a question of devotees coming and going, but a holistic one with 'pujaris' involved, shops selling 'puja' requirements outside, thus making it a small business sector, but the government doesn't seem to consider their livelihood.
"The citizens need solace and a prayer to God, to save them from this catastrophe, the government should not be an obstacle between God and its devotees. By keeping the opening of temples last on the list is not a sign of progression," Raj asserted.
Referring to a delegation of priests from the Trimbakeshwar Temple in Nashik who voiced their sufferings, Raj said that in many small towns, the temple is the focal point of the local economy and this chain must not be broken, especially given the recent economic upheavals and job losses.