Politicians holding gatherings won’t be spared, says Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh amidst COVID-19 spike

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh expressed surprise at the behaviour of Arvind Kejriwal and Sukhbir Badal, who he said had been attending political rallies without following safety protocols

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh
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Bipin Bhardwaj

A day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the spike in COVID-19 cases in Punjab was mainly event-driven with marriages, local body elections, and farmers’ agitation playing their part, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday came down heavily on political leaders, especially Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Expressing surprise at the behaviour of Arvind Kejriwal and Sukhbir Badal, who he said had been attending political rallies without following safety protocols, Capt. Amarinder Singh said that such irresponsible conduct does not behove them.

“How do you expect people to be serious about the spread of the disease if senior political leaders behave like this,” he said, adding that his government would need to be tough to tackle such violations and political leaders would also need to be booked.

Taking a serious note of the ‘irresponsible’ behaviour of the political leaders which was gathering wide criticism from the general public, the Chief Minister ordered a blanket ban on all political gatherings till April 30. He said that all violators, including political leaders, will be booked under the DMA and Epidemics Act.

He ordered the police and the district administrations to register cases against political leaders, organizers and participants of political gatherings under the DMA and Epidemics Act, besides booking the owners of the tent houses who provide infrastructure for such gatherings.

The CM said even the venue owners who provide space for such events will not be spared and they too would be booked and their venues sealed for three months.

“No social, cultural or sports gatherings and related functions will be allowed till April 30. In-person public dealing shall be restricted in all government offices and online and virtual modes for grievance redressal shall be encouraged,” he said, adding that all government employees will need to compulsorily wear masks while attending office.

While reviewing the weekly Covid situation, Capt Amarinder Singh expressed concern at the high positivity and mortality rates in the state. He said it was a matter of concern that over 85% of cases in Punjab are of the UK strain, which is more contagious and virulent.

He said he had no option but to go in for stricter measures to further control the ongoing surge, even though the number of positive cases had somewhat stabilized in the last few days due to curbs imposed earlier. He said he had been forced to order a ban on political gatherings as his pleas to all political parties to refrain from organising such events had been ignored, although the Congress party had unilaterally announced its decision of not holding any rallies or public meetings last month.

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