It appears that Shiv Sena leaders have decided to blame Kumbh Mela for their failures in handling the coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra. After Sanjay Raut held Kumbh Mela responsible for the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar has now slammed the organisation of Kumbh Mela, stating that those returning from the Kumbh Mela will distribute the coronavirus as ‘prasad’. It may be noted that Sanjay Raut had himself held massive rallies and roadshows in Karnataka recently.
“Those returning from Kumbh Mela to their respective states will distribute Corona as ‘prasad’. All these people should be quarantined in their respective states at their own cost. In Mumbai also, we’re thinking of putting them under quarantine on their return,” Pednekar said.
Mumbai mayor compares Kumbh Mela with Markaz Nizamuddin congregation
The Mumbai mayor also compared the Kumbh Mela to the Markaz Nizamuddin event organised by Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi in March 2020 that had quickly become one of the most potent coronavirus hotspots in the country. Ms Pednekar claimed that the Kumbh Mela returnees pose a similar threat as those who returned to Maharashtra after attending the Markaz event.
“I have no idea who has gone there, who is coming back. I have no knowledge about the Kumbh Mela returnees. However, just like the last time when 27 Muslims that had returned from the event(Markaz Nizamuddin) that had happened in Delhi, the people returning from Kumbh Mela also pose a similar threat to the coronavirus outbreak in the state,” Pednekar said.
However, while taking potshots at Kumbh Mela that holds special significance for Hindus and comparing it with Markaz Nizamuddin, Pednekar revealed Maharashtra state’s unpreparedness in dealing with the expanding coronavirus outbreak. Pednekar’s utterances betrayed that the government has no idea how many devotees had attended the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand and how they are coming back.
Maharashtra’s mishandling of the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak
Pednekar’s candid admission is a testament to the state’s woefully bungled handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Ever since the threat of the second wave of coronavirus loomed over the country, Maharashtra has been the top contributors to the total number of coronavirus cases in the country, reporting over 60,000 cases on April 16.
The situation is so grim that there are hardly any vacant beds, ventilators, ICU beds available in most cities of the state. The health system is under tremendous pressure as the COVID-19 cases continue to mount. There has been an acute shortage of Remdesivir—a key antiviral drug, and supplemental oxygen in the state. The scarcity of oxygen is particularly serious, given that Uddhav Thackeray asked IAF assistance from PM Modi to airlift oxygen from neighbouring states.
Even testing capabilities are under tremendous strain due to the inexorable rise in the number of coronavirus cases. Many testing centres have been witnessing serpentine queues as people suspected of being infected are lining up to get themselves tested.
This has naturally created a backlog in testing at several laboratories across the state. The spike in Covid-19 cases precipitated by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and state guidelines mandating negative RT-PCR tests for those working in public transportation, home delivery services, film shoots, roadside eateries, and other categories have likely played a crucial role in exacerbating the testing backlog in the state.
As the coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra worsens, the state government is busy in organising large-scale rallies. Recently, hours after blaming Kumbh Mela and ‘other states’ for the surge in new coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut was seen conducting rallies and roadshows in Belagavi in the bordering state of Karnataka for the upcoming bypoll.
Thousands of people were seen attending his rally even as Maharashtra continued to remain the worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak. The election rally saw brazen violations of COVID-19 norms, with people not adhering to the social distancing protocols and mask-wearing mandates.