Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that the handling of the novel coronavirus crisis by the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government resembled a “circus”, and not governance, PTI reported.
“It looks like the situation in Maharashtra is more of a circus than a government,” Singh said addressing Bharatiya Janata Party workers in Maharashtra via videoconferencing. “It is highly unfortunate to see the state crawling despite having the strong leadership of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar.”
Maharashtra has by far the highest number of coronavirus cases, and deaths, of any state in the country. As of Monday night, the state had reported 88,528 cases and 3,169 deaths, according to the state government’s data.
Singh alleged that in Maharashtra, which has a Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress coalition government since last November, “greed for power has prevailed over political alliance and commitments”. This was perhaps a reference to the Shiv Sena, which broke its alliance with the BJP last year to head the government in Maharashtra.
“I wonder whether any government exists in Maharashtra when I see a coronavirus patient waiting for ambulance for more than 16 hours,” Singh said.
He also criticised the Maharashtra government after Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut targeted actor Sonu Sood. Sood has been credited with making transport arrangements for over hundreds of migrant workers stranded in Mumbai because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Sood has also lent support to Delhi BJP’s Mission Anivarya, a scheme for distributing sanitary pads among underprivileged women in the midst of the countrywide lockdown.
All this had prompted Shiv Sena Raut to lash out at Sood, accusing him of working at the behest of the BJP. Raut claimed that the actor’s recent efforts were a ploy of the BJP to jeopordise the government in Maharashtra. He also referred to a sting operation ahead of the 2019 General Elections, which showed the actor accepting an offer to promote the BJP-led government on various social media platforms.
Sood eventually met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the government does not endorse Raut’s views.
“Instead of lauding his work, the government has criticised actor Sonu Sood for his efforts to send migrant workers back home,” Rajnath Singh said later on Monday. “The Maharashtra government should learn from Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka on how to contain coronavirus spread.”