Congress's Mekedatu Rally Turns Super Spreader as Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily Test Positive

Congress’s Mekedatu Rally Turns Super Spreader as Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily Test Positive

Politics


Several Congress leaders part of the party’s 10-day ‘padyatra’ in Karnataka, demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, have tested positive for Covid-19, sparking fears of a ‘super spread’ of the disease amid the densely-packed rally.

Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress leader Veerappa Moily and others have tested positive for the disease, while several others are down with Covid-like symptoms, such as fever. Moily and Kharge had both been part of the inauguration ceremony for the padyatra.

Former Bengaluru Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun tested positive, along with other women leaders like Kamalakshi Rajanna, and Manjula Manasa. MLA Lakshmi Heballakar is also down with fever.

In a letter, Karnataka CM Bommai has asked the Congress to stop the rally amid the spread of Covid in the state.

Earlier, 30 including the state’s party president DK Shivakumar and former CM Siddaramaiahhad been booked for violating Covid-19 norms in the state. Shivakumar had rudely refused to get tested upon the arrival of the district health official, telling him, ‘Rey Mister, I am fit and fine’.

The leader further alleged that health officials were acting on the instructions of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who had earlier warned of action for violating Covid norms by conducting the march.

The Karnataka BJP had slammed the Congress on Sunday for its Mekedatu padayatra and shared a purported video of state Congress chief DK Shivakumar coughing, branding the Congress a “superspreader.” “Watch Congress president DK Shivakumar cough in public during his phoney protest against the Mekedatu dam. He appears to be suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, but he is still interacting with Congress employees without a mask. Is he hell-bent on increasing the number of Corona cases? “Karnataka BJP’s official Twitter account had tweeted.

Led by Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah, the padayatra with the theme ‘Namma Neeru Namma Hakku’ (Our water, Our right) began at Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, and will be spanning a distance of nearly 139 kms.

However, Siddaramaiah who took part in the march earlier on Sunday, returned to Bengaluru post lunch, due to fever, and is likely to go back once he is fine, party sources had told PTI.

With participation from hundreds of workers, leaders and cultural groups, the principal opposition party in the state remained unfazed by the government’s warning of action in case of violation of COVID restrictions and rules. The government has imposed curfew on weekends and restricted public gatherings to fight the surge in COVID-19 cases, till January 19. It has also imposed night curfew, and prohibited all rallies, dharnas and protests, among others.

Meanwhile, after the Karnataka High Court asked the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) to submit report on whether it has the permission to hold the ‘Walk for Water’ padyatra, sources in the Congress said that the party is likely to abruptly end its rally on January 14.

The court on Wednesday asked the KPCC to inform by January 14 whether it had taken any permission to hold the padyatra demanding a balancing reservoir across Cauvery river at Mekedatu in Ramanagara district.

Sources in the Congress told CNN-News18 that the party is planning to end the yatra at Bidadi and will not enter Bengaluru. The change in plan comes after additional advocate general met party leader DK Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah, they said.

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