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Covid-19: Mandaviya urges Rahul to suspend Yatra, Cong asks ‘why just us’

Covid-19: Mandaviya urges Rahul to suspend Yatra, Cong asks ‘why just us’

NEW DELHI: Citing concerns raised by three BJP MPs over spread of coronavirus, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has urged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to consider suspending the Bharat Jodo Yatra if adherence to Covid protocols cannot be followed.

In a letter addressed to Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday, Mandaviya said three MPs from Rajasthan — P P Chaudhary, Nihal Chand and Devji Patel — have flagged concerns and requested him that Covid protocols, including use of masks and sanitisers, be strictly followed during the march and only those who are vaccinated be allowed to participate.

The yatra has entered Haryana on Wednesday from Rajasthan.

The MPs have also requested the Union minister to ensure that participants are isolated before and after taking part in the march.

The minister urged Gandhi and Gehlot to take prompt action keeping in view the requests made by the three MPs in Rajasthan.

Referring to the letter signed by the three MPs, Mandaviya said they have sought suspension of the yatra in national interest if adherence to Covid protocols cannot be ensured keeping in view concerns around public health.

The three MPs, in their letter on December 20, mentioned how the risk of Covid spread has “increased” as people from other states are coming to Rajasthan to take part in the march and claimed that symptoms have shown up in many of them after the participation.

The MPs also highlighted how Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu tested positive for coronavirus infection after going back following participation in the event.

The Union health minister also attached the letter signed by the MPs to the Congress leaders and asked him to address their concerns.

On the other hand, accusing the government of selectively picking on the Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Congress said the BJP was taking out yatras in Karnataka and Rajasthan and asked if Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had sent letters to their organisers too.

The poser from Congress leader Pawan Khera came after the minister’s letter to former party president Rahul Gandhi.

Khera, who pointed to the lack of restrictions in public transport, also asked the government to announce Covid protocols and said the party would follow them.

“We are wondering why a similar letter was not sent to the president of BJP in Rajasthan Satish Punia who is carrying out a Janakrosh Yatra there. We understand there is not much of a response to that Janakrosh Yatra, there are no people there,” Khera told reporters.

“We also understand that there is a huge response across the country to the Bharat Jodo Yatra and there is a lot of crowd here,” he added.

The senior Congress leader said the BJP was taking out yet another yatra in Karnataka.

“Has the health minister also sent this letter to the Karnataka BJP. We want to know. Today, if you were to travel by air, nobody will ask you to wear a mask or use a sanitiser,” said Khera.
Why has the government of India, he asked, not introduced stringent measures in public transport.

Khera went on to pose a series of questions.

“Why just Rahul Gandhi, why just Congress party, why just Bharat Jodo Yatra? Have they postponed the Parliament or is the Parliament still in session? If physical Parliament can take place, if the Janakrosh Yatra can take place, if the BJP yatra in Karnataka can take place, if there is no mask compulsory in air travel, why are you picking on Rahul Gandhi and Bharat Jodo Yatra…”

“Please announce Covid protocols, we will all follow Covid protocols,” he said.

The yatra entered Haryana on Wednesday from Rajasthan on Wednesday morning.

The Yatra, a mass contact initiative of the Congress, started from Kanyakumari on September 7 and has covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It will enter Delhi on December 24, and after a break of about eight days, move on to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and finally, Jammu and Kashmir.


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