The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka has come down heavily on the senior leadership of the Congress party after its president DK Shivakumar was seen refusing to undergo a Covid-19 test after the first day of his massive padayatra in Ramanagara district.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday said that action will be taken against all those violating Covid-19 restrictions without discrimination.
He said that an FIR has been registered against at least 30 members who had participated in Congress padayatra for the Mekedatu project.
“Whoever violates the Covid rules, whether a common man or a big leader, there is no differentiation. Action will be taken in a uniform way according to the law,” Bommai said.
“The Congress party has shown its tradition by abusing the additional district collector who had come to do his duty. He has tainted the padayatra which is a means of Satyagraha. The Congress is not doing a padayatra but a march to quench its thirst for power,” Dr K Sudhakar, Karnataka’s minister for health, family welfare and medical education said in a post on Twitter.
The statement came a day after Shivakumar was seen taking out his anger against district officials who had come to take the Congress president’s Covid-19 swabs after he undertook a massive rally that was attended by thousands of people.
“If I have any problem, I will tell you. Bloody fellows, they are blackmailing me. They can’t blackmail me. Please go and tell your health minister to play with kids, against those who come from outside (abroad) to the airport. Why should I get tested? Ask him (health minister) to get tested,” Shivakumar is heard saying in a video that has gone viral online.
Shivakumar and the Congress had disregarded all warnings by the BJP government and Ramanagara district authorities over the rally at a time when Covid-19 infections in the state had breached the five-figure in a single day on Sunday. Karnataka now has nearly 50,000 active cases and the padayatra as well as other political activities have exacerbated the risk of spread of infections in a state where restrictions have already crippled lives and livelihoods.
Siddaramaiah, the leader of the opposition in Karnataka, who started the march on Sunday has decided to take the day off after feeling unwell, raising fears if he is infected.
People aware of the developments add that Shivakumar is apprehensive of tests as it could scuttle his padayatra by which he aims to get some control over the Congress party in the state and assert his influence over the Old Mysuru region or Vokkaliga heartland.
“I am fit and fine. You cannot compel me. I know the law of this land. You tell your home minister. I am perfect. Their health may be off… the HM or CM. I will not give any test and I have no need for it. I have walked 15 kms with all this pushing and pulling, have I stumbled? I will not do any test,” Shivakumar said, adding that he “never expected this from the chief minister”.
Shivakumar had earlier justified going ahead with the padayatra claiming that the government were fudging Covid-19 infections to instil fear in people.