A day after Madhya Pradesh home minister defiantly said that he does not wear a face mask and asked how it mattered, leading to backlash from opposition Congress, Narottam Mishra on Thursday apologised for his words.
In a video statement released on social media, the home minister, who is considered the second most powerful leader in the MP government, said that "sometimes we utter words that are opposite to our feelings". "Yesterday I spoke some words about wearing a face mask that were totally wrong. They have caused me internal pain. Also they were against the thoughts of the prime minister [Narendra Modi]. I express regret for the words and accept my mistake. I appeal to all members of society, the people to use face masks and also follow all other rules regarding COVID-19 prevention,” Mishra said.
Earlier, he also tweeted his regret, saying that his utterance on face mask use seemed like violating the rules and said that now on he will wear the face mask. While making the video statement, the minister was seen sporting a face mask, though it was lowered to his neck.
On Wednesday in Indore, the COVID-19 hotspot of Madhya Pradesh, the home minister was seen attending public programmes for four hours without a mask. Indore has a provision of spot fine for not wearing face masks in public places. When questioned by the media on the issue, he defiantly said that he never wore a mask.
The Congress attacked Mishra, who had earlier held health portfolio too, and said that his statements were a challenge to the prime minister and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. They also announced a cash reward for anyone succeeding in making the home minister wear a face mask.
Mishra had later on Wednesday tried to amend his statement saying that he had issues with breathing sometimes, and therefore did not use a face mask. Sources said that Mishra might also have been sent a message by BJP seniors on the issue, especially as the political scenario is sensitive in by-polls bound Madhya Pradesh currently.