A huge BJP procession organized in Indore to honour Madhya Pradesh minister Tulsi Silawat was surrounded in a controversy on Wednesday (September 9) as the crowd avoided social distancing norms and wearing masks.
Indore reported 295 fresh infections, the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases that has taken its tally to 15,165. “At present, about 80% of the total 4,300 beds available for infected patients in different hospitals are occupied,” Dr Amit Malakar, district nodal officer for prevention of COVID-19, was quoted as saying.
Silawat is contesting from the Sanwer constituency in the upcoming Assembly by-election. Silawat is the state Water Resources Minister. He and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus in July. Both had recovered.
A Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalist and then the health minister, Silawat had resigned with 21 other Congress MLAs and joined the BJP in March, which led to fall of the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh. He was made water resources minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government that replaced the Nath dispensation.
A video of the ‘Kalash Yatra’ procession showed a large number of people dancing without maintaining social distancing.
“I have instructed the SDM to file an FIR for the violations of COVID norms. All those who were involved in organising the event will also face action,” said Indore Collector Manish Singh.
Meanwhile, after the video went viral, BJP leader Rajesh Sonkar said that the permission for the Kalash Yatra was taken from the administration.
By-elections to 27 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh are due next month. The results of the by-elections could again alter power equations in the state that witnessed a regime change just five months back when the BJP, with the help of Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 Congress MLAs loyal to him, toppled the Congress-led Kamal Nath government just 15 months after it was sworn in.
As many as 25 Assembly seats fell vacant following defections by Congress MLAs to the BJP along with two other seats that were unrepresented before the BJP coup in March. For the BJP, which has 107 MLAs in the 230-member Assembly, retaining power could be easier as it needs only nine seats in the by-elections.
The Congress, which had won 114 seats in the December 2018 assembly polls to return to power in the state after 15 years, is now down to 89 seats and will have to practically sweep the polls if it wants to stage a comeback.