Bhopal: When India has crossed 30 lakh cases of COVID-19 across the country, and Gwalior-Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh has reported nearly 5,500 cases in last 45 days, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia have launched three-day membership drive in Gwalior region ahead of by-polls from Saturday (22 August, 2020).
The membership drive has been launched in view of Scindia's first visit to Gwalior after joining BJP party in March this year and keeping the upcoming by-poll on 27 seats in mind. The Union Minister and Member of Parliament from Morena parliamentary seat, Narendra Singh Tomar, BJP State Chief, VD Sharma and nearly half a dozen Ministers of State Cabinet are participating in the event. The event has been happening in Phul Bagh maidan of the Gwalior district.
According to the BJP's official schedule of the event, in the three-day membership drive, Scindia supporters of Gwalior, Bhind and Morena districts will join the BJP party. And on the first day, nearly 15,000 workers have participated in the event and 5,243 people have joined the BJP, as claimed by the saffron party in a tweet.
In doing so, the BJP leaders including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union Minister have forgotten the Covid-19 threat and have been violating their own framed lockdown norms to curb the pandemic. Interestingly, the BJP Government which has imposed a total lockdown on Sundays in a view of the pandemic, is, however, running a membership drive on Sunday where thousands of workers from Morena and Gwalior districts will participate.
Out of 5,500 Covid-19 cases and nearly 100 deaths, 90% of the cases have been reported in July and August. Subsequently, a week-long lockdown was imposed in Gwalior and Morena districts between July 14 to 21 by the district administration to control the pandemic. The State Government had issued a slew of guidelines; from capping the number of participants in events like marriage (50 people), funerals (20 people) to total lockdown on Sundays from July 12 , banning religious gatherings and rallies to political events. The party, however, put all the norms aside to run a membership drive in Gwalior.
More so, Gwalior is the third city of Madhya Pradesh after Indore and Bhopal where Covid-19 cases are soaring up. Ignoring all the facts, the Gwalior district administration, however, allowed the ruling Government to hold the event.
This is a blunt misuse of power by the ruling Government in Madhya Pradesh during the pandemic, alleged the opposition Congress, making a sharp comment over the BJP's membership drive.
Congress alleged that the large gathering will only make the Covid-19 situation worse in the region. "The pandemic has gripped the region in the last 45 days. And in such a situation, large gatherings will only increase the chances of spreading the virus in all three districts, when they will return." Gwalior Congress Chief, Devendra Sharma claimed.
"Who will be responsible for the outbreak?" He lamented and added, "In the last four months more than 28,000 cases have been registered in Gwalior for violating the lockdown norms under section 188 of the IPC. But on Sunday, when there should be a total lockdown, the party is running a membership drive and District administration is silently cooperating them. This is hypocrisy."
The party officials further alleged that only 80,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in Gwalior while in Bhopal and Indore it has crossed nearly 2 lakh tests. "The Covid-19 tests have been slowed down in the region just to show the fewer cases," said Gwalior Congress Chief Sharma to The Logical Indian.
Hitting back at the Congress, BJP Spokesperson, Rajneesh Aggrawal said, "This membership drive is exclusively for the Congress workers and Scindia supporters, who wanted to join the party with Scindia. This isn't a public event. And the party is keeping all the lockdown norms in mind."
Taking a dig over the event, State Congress Spokesperson and Media in charge of Gwalior-Chambal region, KK Mishra said, "The ruling BJP has been using Covid-19 as a tool. When they wanted to extend the dates of the by-election, the Government gave the reason of a surge in Covid-19 cases in the region. And when they want to run the campaign, hold political events, the Govt says that the Covid-19 situation is under control. And the administration fully supports them."
He further alleged, it seems that the District administration has also taken membership of the BJP. "When Congress workers seek permission for holding an event, the admin turns it down, but in case of the BJP, the admin allows it."
"In the last couple of months, the Dist admin has registered nearly 20 FIRs against the Congress workers accused of violating lockdown norms," Mishra alleged.
When contacted, Gwalior Collector, Kaushlendra Vikram Singh did not respond to the calls.
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