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Karnataka: BJP dharna demanding civic nod for holding Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations on Idgah Maidan enters second day

Hubballi: The BJP on Friday continued its protest outside the Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation commissioner's office for the second day, demanding permission to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, from September 19, at the Idgah Maidan.
The sit-in protest is being led by Aravind Bellad, a sitting BJP MLA from Hubbali-Dharwad West.
Bellad, along with the mayor of Hubbali-Dharwad West, Veena Bhardwaj and other BJP leaders sat on a 'dharna' (sit-in) on Thursday outside the office of the municipal commissioner, demanding permission to hold Ganesh festivities on the Idgah Maidan.
Mahesh Tenginakai, the BJP MLA from Hubli Dharwad Central Vidhan Sabha Constituency, also joined the sit-in demonstration on Friday.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Bellad said the idol of Lord Ganesha will be installed at the Idgah Maidan even if the civic body denies permission to hold the festivities there.
Last year, the Karnataka High Court allowed Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to be held at the Maidan, ruling that since the ground was a property of the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, it could allot the land to whoever it wanted to.
Meanwhile, a petition filed by Anjuman-e-Islam, a Muslim body, seeking a stay on the earlier order, allowing the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi at the Idgah Maidan, will come up for hearing at the high court on Friday.
If the civic nod comes through, this year will mark the first time that Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated on the Idgah Maidan.
The ground in Hubballi has been caught up in a controversial dispute for decades until 2010 when the Supreme Court held that it was the exclusive property of Hubballi-Dharawad Municipal Corporation.
In 1921, the ground was leased to the Anjuman-E-Islam for 999 years to hold prayers. Post-Independence, many shops were opened on the premises.
This was challenged in court and the matter was caught up in litigation till the Supreme Court ruling of 2010. 
The top court had granted permission for prayers twice a year, with a rider that no permanent structure could come up on the ground.
The BJP, earlier, accused the Congress government of indulging in ‘appeasement politics”.
"The Congress government is engaging in appeasement politics in quest for minority votes. The 'dharna' (protest) will continue till we have permission to enter (the ground). We won't call off our protest unless an authorisation (to hold Ganesh festivities on the Idgah ground) comes through from the commissioner's office," Bellad told reporters on Thursday.
He alleged that the government was holding up approval for Anjuman-e-Islam, which has petitioned the high court to withhold permission for the celebration of the Hindu festival on the Idgah Maidan.
"The Congress government in Karnataka is deliberately delaying permission for Ganesh festival celebration," the Hubli-Dharwad West MLA alleged earlier.
Bellad said though the Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation has allowed the installation of the Ganesh idol at the Idgah Maidan, the state government was "playing appeasement politics" by withholding celebrations.
"Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation's general body took a decision allowing Rani Chennamma Idgah Ganesh Utsav Samiti to install an idol of Lord Ganesha at the Idgah Maidan. However, the state government is playing appeasement politics in the matter by withholding permission for Ganesh Bhakts to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi," the BJP MLA said.

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