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Maharashtra: Chief Minister sits at home while Leader of Opposition tours the state extensively amid coronavirus outbreak

Maharashtra’s people have only heard CM Uddhav Thackeray through his Facebook live sessions, and Twitter posts done by the official handle of the Chief Minister’s office.

Maharashtra continues to be the most affected state by the Chinese Coronavirus. Almost 30% of total cases in the country can attributed alone to the state of Maharashtra. In such a situation, you expect chief minister of the state firmly taking control of situation and touring the state to keep officials on toes. Instead what we are seeing? Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has hardly left his private residence ‘Matoshree’ leaving the state completely on the mercy of other ministers and bureaucrats. 

Recently, BJP leader Narayan Rane criticised CM Uddhav Thackeray alleging that in the middle of the pandemic, Maharashtra CM hasn’t moved out of his home. State secretariat named as ‘Mantralaya’ is being ruled by the bureaucrats. He also suggested that the old name of ‘Mantralaya’ used to be ‘Sachivalaya’ and it should be renamed as such, since no minister is present in ‘Mantralaya’.  

There is a truth to his allegations. Since the pandemic started and lockdown was announced CM Uddhav Thackeray has hardly moved out of his private residence. He did come out twice, once on a visit to cyclone ‘Nisarga’ affected Raigad district and once for government Mahapooja of Lord Vitthal, at Pandharpur on the occasion of Ashadi Ekadashi. Barring these two occasions he has seldom ventured out of Mumbai, and hardly even gone to ‘Mantralaya’, which is Maharashtra state secretariat having offices of all ministers and senior bureaucrats.   

Maharashtra’s people have only heard him through his Facebook live sessions, and Twitter posts done by the official handle of the Chief Minister’s office. He hasn’t been seen anywhere on ground visiting hospitals or other cities in Maharashtra reviewing the situation. However, to their credit, health minister Rajesh Tope and deputy CM Ajit Pawar are on ground, working as they should be in this situation. Just like his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, Uddhav Thackeray doesn’t handle a single portfolio in Maharashtra Government and just presides the state as Chief Minister. 

On the other hand, leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis is touring the state extensively, visiting different cities and hospitals and holding review meetings. Being leader of opposition, which is a statutory post, he can hold review meetings but can’t pass instructions to the officials. Even then he is taking every effort to be seen on ground and doing his bit as responsible opposition leader. However mainstream media has failed to recognize his efforts, and almost censored his visits to various affected places. People are coming to know about these visits, only through social media.

We have seen a viral video of a policeman pleading to him about lack of support from the government and lamenting that situation would have been much better if he was the Chief Minister. The said policeman was given a punishment posting and transferred 150 kilometers away from his place of residence by the vindictive Thackeray government. There are many such videos, doing the rounds where the common man is pleading with Fadnavis to help them and he is assuring them that he will act on it to the best of his abilities. Few days back there was a mismatch in reporting of Corona deaths in Maharashtra. It was pointed out by Fadnavis. Acting on it, the next day the state government was forced to recognize these deaths as Corona deaths which were previously weren’t recognized. 

It is surprising that Marathi media which champions itself to be the progressive media has failed to report on Chief Minister’s self-imposed lockdown, and not touring the state and censoring the leader of opposition’s visits to affected cities.

(This article has been written by Keshav, a media graduate, who left journalism for an alternative career. Traveller, Aviation Enthusiast. Indian, Marwari, Marathi in that order)

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