Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday urged political parties to stop agitations, meetings and other programmes in order to control the spread of Covid-19, PTI reported. He also stressed upon the need of avoiding gatherings during festivals.
“We can celebrate festivals later, let us prioritise the lives and health of our citizens,” Thackeray said in a statement. “The situation can go out of hand in view of the spike in daily cases.”
Thackeray’s statement came as some parts of Maharashtra have been seeing a steady rise in fresh Covid-19 cases over the last few days. Mumbai has reported over 400 cases for the past five days. The city registered 495 cases on Sunday.
The weekly positivity rate in the state climbed to 2.71% during the week ending on September 4, as compared 2.58% during the last week of August, according to News18.
“Who would like to impose restrictions on festivals and religious programmes?” the chief minister said on Monday. “But people’s lives are important.”
Thackeray said that the third wave of Covid-19 was “at our doorsteps”, adding that the onus was on political parties to ensure that the pandemic situation did not go out of control, according to PTI. The chief minister also referred to the rise in coronavirus cases in Kerala since the Onam festival last month.
“Kerala is seeing a spike of 30,000 cases daily,” he said. “This is a danger signal and if we don’t take it seriously, Maharashtra will have to pay a heavy price.”
On Sunday too, Thackeray had criticised Opposition leaders in the state for demanding the reopening of religious places, Mint reported. He said that the government did not want to open religious establishments and close them again if the situation worsened.
Thackeray’s statement came four days before the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. The festival is celebrated on a large scale in Maharashtra and people typically gather in large number in public spaces.
Last month, the Maharashtra government had banned all public gatherings, including the formation of human pyramids, during the traditional Dahi handi event held on Janmashtami festival. Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the state had opposed the decision and called it “anti-Hindu”.
However, Thackeray had defended the ban, saying that the government was not against any religion, but against the coronavirus. On August 28, the Union home ministry had written to states and Union Territories, advising them to take measures to avoid large gatherings during the upcoming festive season and, if required, impose local restrictions.
Karnataka allows Ganesh Chaturthi festivals with curbs
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has permitted Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in districts where the Covid-19 positivity rate is less than 2%, the Hindustan Times reported.
State Revenue Minister R Ashok said that in urban areas, public celebration of the festival will be allowed at one place each ward, while district officials will decide on the matter in rural areas.
The Tamil Nadu government has announced that small temples will be allowed to remain open during the festival, News18 reported. The state government has said that devotees can place idols of the Hindu deity Ganesha outside small temples, and the government will arrange for immersing them in water bodies.