Amid a raging controversy over people bursting crackers in response to the prime minister's ''9 pm-9 minutes'' call, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Monday said there was nothing wrong with lighting fireworks as an "expression of happiness", amid the nationwide lockdown.
Several overenthusiastic people on Sunday ventured out into the streets, lit firecrackers and released paper lanterns, blowing holes into the primary intent of the lockdown order.
Social media exploded, with netizens questioning the reason behind such celebrations at a time when the country, and the entire world, was struggling to contain the pandemic.
In Kolkata, police had launched a crackdown and arrested 98 people for flouting the norms.
The prime minister had urged people to switch off lights at their homes and light up lamps, candles or mobile phone torches for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday to display the country's "collective resolve" to defeat coronavirus.
Mr Ghosh on Monday came out in support of those that burst firecrackers and said there was nothing wrong with it.
"People are living in a crisis situation due to this ongoing lockdown and the pandemic. Nobody had asked them to burst firecrackers. However, if they do, what is the harm in it? This is an expression of happiness.
"I want to ask the environmentalists who said that the air quality deteriorated What about the entire year when the pollution is at its peak? I would request everybody not to make an issue out of this incident," Mr Ghosh said.
Senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee had on Sunday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lights-out call and said India was the first-ever nation to celebrate a pandemic.
"With the firecrackers, fancy diyas & sky lanterns, we have become the first-ever Nation to celebrate a pandemic #COVID19. I am also contemplating how many actually followed the norms of #lockdown to gear up for this. What was being preached: self-isolation or self-destruction? (sic)" he wrote on his Twitter handle.