Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who wrote to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to ensure that Covid “protocol” is followed during his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, today said, “I cannot forget my duty to stop the possible spread of Covid, just because a family might think that it is the norm.” above… No one has the right to receive special treatment.’
Citing concerns following the escalation in China, Mr. Mandaviya, in his letter on Tuesday, “requested” Rahul Gandhi to cancel his yatra “in the national interest” if “protocol” cannot be followed.
He said today that “several people” have contracted the virus after participating in the yatra, citing Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu as an example.
The Congress, accusing the BJP of hypocrisy, said, “We will definitely follow whatever protocol is put in place.” India currently has no mask mandate and has lifted other restrictions over the past year.
A group of experts led by the Ministry of Health advised the use of masks in crowded areas during the day. It is not binding, however, as the government says, “there is no need to panic”.
“It is my duty to ensure that Covid does not spread in the country. If anyone thinks how can a minister (Rahul Gandhi) question them, what can I do about that mindset? Asking is like obstructing my duty”: Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya post-Covid review meeting pic.twitter.com/buqisQABb9
– NDTV (@ndtv) December 21, 2022
In his letter to Rahul Gandhi, Mansukh Mandaviya wrote, “I request [Rahul Gandhi] Covid-protocol, including the use of masks and disinfectants, will be strictly followed during the run and only those who have been vaccinated will be allowed to participate.”
🔴 #FRACTURE | Union Health Minister writes to Rahul Gandhi to ensure compliance with Covid norms for his Bharat Jodo Yatra https://t.co/Thl9wdawJOpic.twitter.com/Me7aOOJ89w
– NDTV (@ndtv) December 21, 2022
The letter further said, “If this Covid protocol cannot be followed, then in view of the public health emergency and to save the country from the Covid pandemic, I request you to suspend the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the national interest.”
On December 20, when the yatra was in Rajasthan, the letter cited three BJP MPs from the state to “express concern” to the minister. The yatra entered Haryana on Wednesday morning.
In its applause, the Congress cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent poll campaign in Gujarat and the BJP’s continued march. “BJP is taking out yatras in Karnataka and Rajasthan. Has the health minister sent them a letter?” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera.
“Please inform us of the Covid protocols, we will follow them,” the party said.
Is the government of India seeing only Rahul Gandhi’s party in India and ‘Bharat jodoro yatra’?
Is the BJP’s trip to Rajasthan and Karnataka not visible to the government of India?
हम नियमेल का पालन करेंग, लेक्सरक उस्की गोहषा कसकी अर वो उपलुग हौन.
– @Pawankhera G pic.twitter.com/XAWYx6Cg0t
— Congress (@INCIndia) December 21, 2022
The expert team meeting was held later, after which Mr. Mandaviya took a dig at Congress Gandhis: “It is important to follow Covid protocols even if you belong to a particular family.”
Speaking in Hindi, he added, “I am only a small member of the team he is leading pradhan sevak (referring to PM Modi), I cannot question special people.”
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had earlier said, reacting to the letter, that the BJP is “looking for excuses after seeing the success of the yatra”.
“It was Modi si wearing a mask when he went door-to-door canvassing for votes in Gujarat?” he stated.
“The yatra has spoiled the propaganda spread by the BJP enjoy (pliant) media,” he said, “but now Rahul Gandhi is on every social media. Yatra is being talked about, it is making a huge impact. That is why the Modi government (Mansukh) has expanded Mandaviya to use any pretext and try to turn people against the yatra.”
Rahul Gandhi has not reacted.