Amid COVID surge, thousands attend poll rallies and netas call in sick

Senior doctor advises citizens to wear double masks and distribute N95 masks

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is the latest politician to get the infection | Photo: Twitter/Arvind Kejriwal

Several politicians, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Union minister Mahendra Nath Pandey and TMC’s Babul Supriyo, said on Tuesday they had tested positive for COVID-19, as a senior doctor advised citizens to wear double masks and distribute N95 masks.

India is once again witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases amid an election season. Leaders from various political parties have been holding rallies as crucial Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections inch closer.

A ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ rally was organised by the Congress in UP’s Bareilly on Tuesday. Part of the party’s “women can fight” campaign, it saw a stampede of sorts. The participants — hundreds of women and teenage girls — were mostly mask-less.

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Congress leaders in Lucknow termed it a conspiracy hatched by the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government. “Some girls have been injured, and we are waiting for further details,” state Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh was quoted as saying by PTI. Alleging that it was a “conspiracy hatched by the BJP government”, he said: “The district administration knew that the run was being held and did not cooperate.”

“The district administration did not cooperate as far as the issue of security was concerned and the entire incident smells of a conspiracy hatched by the BJP.”

Also read: COVID shots for teens — here are the cost, enrolment details

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut too was spotted without a mask an event in Nashik recently. When questioned, Raut claimed he was following the prime minister’s “example”.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells people to wear mask, but he himself doesn’t wear one. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray wears mask, but Modi is the leader of the nation. I follow the prime minister and therefore, I do not wear a mask, and even people do not wear masks,” the lawmaker had said.

Even at Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent rally in UP’s Moradabad, masks were missing. Not a single person could be spotted wearing one or following physical distancing.

As the threat of coronavirus and the fast-spreading Omicron variant looms over polls, the state election commission has said that it would not allow large political rallies or road shows.

Meanwhile, one of India’s top doctors suggested citizens wear double masks and distribute N95s as “we are dealing with a variant that spreads like wildfire”. 

Reacting to Dr Arvinder Singh Soin advice, a Twitter user said, “If only our politicians could hear you.”

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