In U-turn, Rajasthan BJP says it won’t suspend ‘Jan Aakrosh Yatra’ over Covid

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JAIPUR: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue its ‘Jan Aakrosh Yatra’ in Rajasthan till the central or state government issue an advisory on large gatherings in view of concerns around Covid-19, the Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia said on Thursday, announcing the party’s move to reverse its stand on the yatra.

Poonia’s announcement on social media came hours after BJP general secretary Arun Singh told reporters in Delhi that the BJP has suspended the yatra against the Ashok Gehlot government. “The BJP has suspended ‘Jan Aakrosh Yatra’ in Rajasthan in the wake of rising number of Covid-19 cases. For the BJP, people come first before politics. For us the safety of people, their health is priority,” Singh announced, according to PTI, and asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to pause the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ as well.

Satish Poonia issued a video statement hours later, asserting that there was some confusion on the yatra, and that the ‘Jan Aakrosh Yatra’ will continue till the central or state government issue an advisory. BJP president JP Nadda launched the yatra on December 1 as the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state completed four years in power in an effort to mobile public opinion against the state government.

The confusion in the BJP over the status of its campaign came against the backdrop of the party’s effort to corner Rahul Gandhi over his Bharat Jodi Yatra. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday urged Gandhi and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot to consider suspending ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ if adherence to Covid protocols cannot be followed, triggering a sharp reaction from Gandhi who said the BJP was coming up with “excuses” to stop the yatra.

The yatra, which started in Kanyakumari in September, has covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

To be sure, currently, there are no restrictions imposed by state governments on rallies or any kind of large gatherings that were effective under the Disaster Management Act during the peak of the pandemic, which was withdrawn on March 23.

On March 23, the Centre wrote to states saying social activities, including those involving large gatherings, may be resumed but advised that a decision must be taken on the basis of a “careful analysis of the local situation, areas to be covered, and probability of transmission.”

The spread of the virus is also among the lowest in open air, although crowds in close proximity do still carry an outbreak risk.

On Thursday, Mandaviya also responded to criticism that politics prompted his letter to Rahul Gandhi. “We have never done politics on Covid crisis and we don’t even want to do it,” Mandaviya said, adding that after some MPs pointed out to him about people, including Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who took part in the event, contracting the virus, it was his responsibility as the health minister to write the letter.


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