Asaram Bapu’s pre-Holi functions draw flak

Thane, March 18 (IANS) Maharashtra political parties Monday condemned spiritual leader Asaram Bapu’s insistence over his wet pre-Holi celebrations at a time when a severe drought looms over many parts of the state.

Asaram Bapu has been accused of indulging in “wastage” of water, when millions of people in the state are thirsting, during pre-Holi celebrations Sunday in Nagpur and in Navi Mumbai Monday.
A spokesperson for the Republican Party of India (RPI) demanded stringent action against Asaram Bapu and the organisers of his Holi functions.
He said the party had called upon all private and public organisations in the state not to provide water for Asaram Bapu’s pre-Holi functions and instead divert the water to needy villages reeling under drought.
The spiritual leader’s celebrations figured even in the legislative council where several members criticised him for wasting water in the pre-Holi celebrations.
Raising the issue, Congress member Sanjay Dutt said that the water tankers for Asaram Bapu’s festivities were supplied by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation.
“He (Asaram Bapu) wasted lakhs of litres of water while celebrating Holi at the Kasturchand Park in Nagpur yesterday,” Dutt alleged, raising the matter in a point of propriety, and demanded action against the supporters of Asaram Bapu.
Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, terming the spiritual leader’s actions as “regrettable,” said instructions have been issued to concerned officials to avoid recurrence of such incidents.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Bala Nandgaonkar and others raised the issue in the legislative assembly and condemned the wastage of water.
Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant urged people to celebrate a dry Holi this year in view of the precarious water position in Maharashtra.
Sawant pointed out that the present water availability in the state’s reservoirs was barely 31 percent and if people celebrate a dry Holi, lot of precious water can be saved for the remaining two-and-half months before the next monsoon.
He added that many private societies in Mumbai have decided to bar people from using their swimming pools till June to avoid replenishing water in these dry times.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Jitendra Awhad said that henceforth, Asaram Bapu should be barred from entering Maharashtra and adding to the woes of the people suffering from an unprecedented water crisis.
The spiritual leader’s Holi celebrations in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Monday resulted in a fracas between his supporters and RPI activists.
In the ensuing melee, a media person belonging to a private TV channel was manhandled and his camera equipment damaged. Police later detained three people.