Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu has come under fire after taking part in a large procession in Chitradurga district on Tuesday where social distancing norms were blatantly flouted.
The procession, The News Minute said, was part of an event called ‘Baagina Arpane’, to pay offerings to the Vedavathi River. The report also said that the minister, who was not wearing a mask, was welcomed by a massive apple garland.
Karnataka has 3,796 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Wednesday, according to an update from the Union health ministry.
Sriramulu later claimed that it wasn’t a scheduled event. “I came for river worship. I joined this programme at the behest of the workers. I am constantly appealing to everyone. Follow the rules of social distancing, we have also made guidelines for this,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV.
He added that he had covered his face with a muffler during the procession.
PTI reported that after coming to know about the criticism, Sriramulu, later addressing the gathering, could be heard requesting people to follow social distancing and to wear masks.
“There are reports in the media that people have gathered here in large number and no one is wearing masks. I request you to maintain social distancing to be safe from corona...we can’t stop you, you people are strong and move ahead of us (during procession), you don’t listen to us...listen to PM and CM and follow social distancing and wear masks,” he can be heard saying.
“Such public meetings are not allowed, but looking at you we got emotional as you people will take me wrong if I don’t talk to you. I’m cancelling my other programmes and going back,” he added, according to PTI.
Congress’ Karnataka unit and several people on Twitter called out the minister over the event. Congress MLA Raghumurthy asked if social distancing norms are different for the BJP. He said such a procession was unwarranted at a time when the pandemic is spreading in the state, according to The New Indian Express.
Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa also said action should be taken against the minister for flouting the norms.
People took to Twitter to criticise the minister for flouting social distancing norms.
(With PTI inputs)