BJP MLA defends giving money during Chhath celebrations, justifies it as ‘religious’ practice

BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi, who has landed in a controversy for distributing money among women in alleged violation of the model code of conduct, sought to justify his action on Friday, saying he was only following an age-old religious practice.

Reacting to a video clip of him distributing Rs 100 notes among women during Chhath celebrations in his constituency, which has gone viral on the social media, Joshi said there was nothing wrong in it as he was only following an old religious tradition.

“You must have noticed in the video that I am handing notes only to women who apply ‘tika’ on my forehead, not to all those present there. Brothers do give money or a gift to their sisters when they apply ‘tika’ on their foreheads. It is an age-old practice. What is wrong in it?” Joshi told PTI.

It has nothing to do with the forthcoming civic body polls as being alleged by the Congress, he said.

“Congress is making a mountain out of a molehill as it can see its defeat in the civic body polls,” he said.

Asked whether he had been served with a notice for alleged violation of the model code of conduct by the state election commission, he said he had not received any such notice yet.

“I will reply to it (notice) when I get it. No one takes cognisance when liquor is distributed among voters to influence them but they object when an age-old religious practice is followed,” the Mussoorie MLA said.

Joshi is not a stranger to controversy. He was in the news for assaulting police horse Shaktimaan during a BJP rally here in 2016. The horse died of injuries later.

Meanwhile, the state Congress has lodged a complaint against Joshi with state election commissioner Chandrashekhar Bhatt terming his action an open violation of the model code of conduct, which is in force in view of the civic body polls slated for November 18.

“It is a clear case of notes for votes and an open violation of the model code of conduct. We demand stern action against the BJP leader,” Pradesh Congress president Pritam Singh said.