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Govt ‘released Covid-19 virus’ to stop Bharat Jodo Yatra, claims Shiv Sena's 'Saamana'

Rahul Gandhi during his Bharat Jodo Bharat rally (Image: PTI)

In view of the rising cases of coronavirus in China, the Union Health Ministry yesterday appealed to the Congress Party to follow proper Covid regulations in the Bharat Jodo yatra. 

In a letter to Rahul Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya asked them to ensure that proper Covid guidelines are being followed. And in case, if proper regulations are not followed then the yatra should be stopped keeping in mind the 'public health emergency' situation, Mandaviya had added. The health minister also urged the Congress leaders to use masks and sanitisers in the yatra and that only vaccinated people should participate

The editorial in Saamana, the political mouthpiece of the Thackeray camp said, “Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has suggested either follow Covid protocol in the Bharat Jodo Yatra or stop the foot march. Rahul Gandhi has completed 100 days of his Bharat Jodo Yatra and is receiving mass support on a large scale. The government could not stop it by law or by conspiracy so it seems the Union government has released the 'Covid-19' virus."

"The fear of rising in Covid cases due to the rush of the 'Bharat Jodo' yatra is right. But three years ago when Corona wreaked havoc, you were the one who invited the then US President Trump to Gujarat and gathered lakhs of people in his honour," the magazine said further.

The letter by health minister triggered a heavy backlash from the Congress Party with Rajasthan Chief Minister Gehlot claiming that the letter was written because the Modi government got alarmed by the huge turnout in the Bharat Jodo.

"The BJP and the Modi government are so alarmed by the huge turnout in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan that they are writing letters to Rahul Gandhi to follow the Covid-19 protocol in Rajasthan," Gehlot said on Wednesday while talking to the reporters.

The Chief Minister said that the move by the Health Minister clearly shows that BJP's aim is to disturb the Yatra. "Upset with the rising public support for Bharat Jodo Yatra, BJP's aim is to disturb it," he further said.

He further accused that the step of writing the letter was not in the interest of the public but "politically motivated".

"PM Modi did rallies in Tripura two days ago where no COVID protocols were followed. During the second wave of COVID also, PM had mass rallies in West Bengal. If the Union Health Minister's objective is not political and his concern is justified, then he should have written the first letter to the Prime Minister," Gehlot said.

Later on Wednesday, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel attacked the Centre government over the Health Minister's letter and said that the BJP is looking for reasons to stop the Congress' Yatra.

"They (BJP) are looking for new ways to stop the Yatra. If COVID spreads in the country, Yatra will be impacted. But if it is not the case now, why are they looking for new excuses?" Baghel said.

He said, "When there was Corona, you (BJP) held elections in West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh. Now you're making excuses to stop Yatra."

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, elections were conducted in Bengal, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh. Then there was no issue. If Covid situation gets worse, the party will take the decision about Yatra. What's the point of creating hue and cry now, when there is no alarming situation?" said Baghel while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

Coronavirus Live Updates

The Congress on Thursday also pointed out that health minister wrote to Rahul Gandhi over Covid concerns and PM Modi was reviewing the virus-related situation just days before the Bharat Jodo Yatra enters Delhi.

The Congress' jibe came just hours before PM Modi was set to review the situation related to COVID-19 in the country at a high-level meeting Thursday afternoon.

"4 cases of Omicron sub-variant driving Chinese surge were reported in Gujarat and Odisha in July, September & November," Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.

"Health Minister writes a letter to Rahul Gandhi yesterday. PM is reviewing situation today. Bharat Jodo Yatra will enter Delhi day after. Ab Aap Chronology Samjhiye…(now, understand the chronology)," he said.

In the last six months, India reported four cases of the BF.7 Omicron sub-variant, which is reportedly driving the current surge of infections in China.

Sources said there are currently 10 different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest being BF.7. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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