Smearing communal colours on the debate over pollution control during Diwali and calling it an outcome of a leftist mindset, Assam cabinet minister Ashok Singhal on Saturday asked why the question arises only ahead of a Hindu festival.
The cabinet minister for housing and urban affairs in Assam, Ashok Singhal said that people follow certain customs and traditions while celebrating a festival and they should have the freedom to continue doing so.
This was after he was courted by reporters ahead of the kicking-off of Diwali celebrations across Guwahati and Assam over the measures in place to tackle the sudden spike in air pollution, a phenomenon witnessed every year after Diwali celebrations across India.
He also asked why such questions do not arise before the celebration of festivals of other religions, quizzing why reporters do not ask about pollution control measures before Eid.
Ashok Singhal said, "Whenever any Hindu festival comes around, you come asking about measures to tackle pollution. When we celebrate Durga Puja, you come asking about pollution, when we celebrate Diwali or Holi, you ask about pollution. However, ahead of Eid, I never see you ask about pollution control measures."
"People who have been following certain customs and beliefs while celebrating a festival should be allowed to continue to do so. In addition, I find only in Sanatan Dharma that people worship Mother Nature. We worship plants, and rivers. During Bihu, we also worship cows which is a part of the customs," he said.
The cabinet minister further said, "This was not taught to us by the Britishers or the Western world. We have been doing this since time immemorial. However, a leftist mindset churns out the idea that pollution happens only during Hindu festivals."
When asked about the harmful chemicals used in firecrackers that spread into the atmosphere becoming one of the most prominent causes of air pollution when bursting during Diwali, Ashok Singhal championed for celebrations to be based on lines of customs and traditions.
He said, "Traditional practices must be adhered to during celebrations. Tell me one thing. Doul Utsav is celebrated in Barpeta. Does it cause pollution? If it does, then we are ready to accept that and move ahead. If you say that festivities are creating pollution, then I would say that this pollution is for the good."
Meanwhile, Ashok Singhal also expressed his displeasure at being courted with this question by the reporters and said that such questions on pollution control ahead of a Hindu festival angered him.