The Madhya Pradesh Congress attacked the BJP government and state Home Minister Narottam Mishra over his continuing flouting of face mask norms in public places and asked whether anyone had the courage to take action on him.
The fresh attack came after a defiant home minister said in Indore on Wednesday, “I never wear a mask at any (public) programme. How does that matter?” to a media query on the issue. When asked whether there was some specific reason for not wearing a mask, the home minister said “I just don’t wear it”.
The minister participated in various programmes in Indore on Wednesday for about four hours and everyone attending was wearing masks but for Mishra. The flouting of the norm was significant because Indore district administration has provisioned a spot fine of Rs 100 for anyone found not wearing face masks in public places or even lowering it during conversation.
Also, the home minister’s defiance comes at a time when Indore is witnessing a fresh burst of COVID-19 positive cases. On Tuesday, the district reported 446 fresh cases that caused the COVID-19 cases tally in the district to breach the 20,000-mark and end at 20,383—the highest in the state and almost 20 per cent of all the cases in MP. The district has reported 509 deaths till now—also the highest in the state.
Using a video clipping of the home minister’s statement, the Congress launched an attack on the BJP government in state and Centre and Mishra. “The vanity of the home minister has reached the seventh heaven. Modi ji (prime minister Narendra Modi) do the common people of the country have the freedom to make and break rules like this during a pandemic? The masses will demolish this vanity,” the MP Congress tweeted.
Narendra Saluja, the media coordinator of MP Congress Committee chief Kamal Nath, tweeted, “MP home minister Narottam Mishra’s open challenge to PM Narendra Modi and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as he says he does not wear a mask. Is there someone who has the courage to take action on this open flouting of norms? Are the rules only for masses?”
Mishra, who also held the health portfolio in the state till the cabinet expansion in July, has always courted controversy as he never wore masks in public places. He did so only twice or thrice all through the past six months—once at a video-conferencing event with PM Modi and once or twice after the issue created a huge flutter in July. Then too, he courted media attention with a mask that was embossed with his own smiling face!