In the small hill state of Himachal Pradesh, the Covid-19 crisis seems to have turned into a political football between the ruling BJP and the principal Opposition Congress.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state is not tired of patting its own back for Covid management despite a worrying rise in cases and deaths over the last four months, the Congress has gone a step ahead.
The Congress party, which loudly grilled the government inside the Assembly for ‘system failure’ in the pandemic, threw all safety protocols to the wind to display political show of strength at a ‘dharna’ in Shimla on Tuesday against ‘anti-people’ policies and corruption by government amid the Covid pandemic. Elated by the response of workers, the Congress leadership neither bothered to ensure the social distancing norm, nor of wearing masks properly at ‘dharna’- the two main mandatory directions to be followed by everyone in Covid era to avoid spread.
Led by Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Kuldeep Singh Rathore, the party men even crashed barricades put by the Police near Chaura Maidan to prevent the movement of protesters towards Assembly complex.
They were later joined in by leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and some other MLAs, who marched with them towards the Assembly complex, where they were again stopped.
All this notwithstanding the fact that only on Monday, the Congress members in the House had criticised the BJP leaders for violating Covid protocols in public, and putting their associates and other people at risk of Covid-19. Addressing the party workers, the State President of Congress, Kuldeep Singh Rathore said the protest is against the price hike in bus fares, petrol and diesel prices, corruption by BJP Ministers during Covid-19 crises in purchases of sanitizers, health equipment and ventilators.
Rathore said the party workers should strengthen themselves in the field against BJP, as corruption is at its peak now with BJP ministers allegedly busy in land deals. He said the recent health scam, involving alleged corruption in essential purchases for Covid-19 is an example of the state government’s sensitivity towards public issues.
“Fake degrees are being sold in the state and jobs are given to outsiders whereas unemployed youth in the state is still waiting for promises made by Modi government to create two crore jobs per year,” Rathore said that administration has totally failed, employees are being transferred on political affiliations and some officers are behaving as if they are political agents of BJP.
He said the Congress party is keeping strict vigil on all these issues and will not allow the BJP to sell properties of our state. “Whether it is the Central or state government, the people are fed up with their anti people policies and have understood that BJP is busy in looting people even in this pandemic situation. “Their big promise of providing relief like the one announced by the Prime Minister on the Rs 20,000 crore package has proved to be yet another ‘jumla,” he said.
Leader of opposition, Mukesh Agnihotri demanded resignation from the entire cabinet of BJP for failing to control corruption, price hike and unemployment.
Later, Rathore, accompanied by party leaders, Rajneesh Kimta, Kewal Pathania, Jenab Chandel, Jitender Chaudhary, Ajay Bahadur Singh and Shiv Kumar presented memorandum to the Chief Minister in his chamber in the Assembly complex on rampant corruption, economic slowdown in Himachal Pradesh in all economic sectors and failure to effectively handle covid-19 crises in the state.
Meanwhile, the state has so far reported 7758 Covid-19 positive cases till today, which include 2288 active cases. There have been 57 deaths so far, with few Covid-019 positive persons having died due to non- Covid reasons.