West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday dismissed speculation that the state would cancel this year’s Durga Puja celebrations in view of the coronavirus outbreak, and claimed that “a political party is spreading vicious rumours” about it, ANI reported. Banerjee said she would do “sit-ups in front of people 100 times” if the Bharatiya Janata Party was able to prove its claim.
“A political party is spreading vicious rumours about Durga Puja, so far we haven’t had any meeting on it,” Banerjee said while addressing the Observance of Police Day function via video conference. “Prove that the West Bengal government has said there will be no Durga Puja, I will do sit-ups in front of people 100 times.”
In a veiled dig at the BJP, the chief minister said that some “fake IT pages are spreading misinformation on Durga Puja”. “I am asking the police to find these people who are purposely spread fake news and make them hold their ears and do sit-ups,” she added. “Only fake news is being spread to destroy communal harmony.”
The ruling-Trinamool Congress government has not made any announcements about this year’s Durga Puja so far, although the celebrations are expected to be muted given the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the restrictions imposed to contain it.
Lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus in West Bengal have been imposed in an intermittent manner. The state had a complete shutdown on Monday, which was the first of the three lockdowns announced by the government in September. The the other two will be observed on September 11 and September 12, according to The Times of India.
West Bengal has recorded 1,60,025 coronavirus cases, including 3,667 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the Union health ministry. India, meanwhile, reported 89,706 new cases, taking its tally to 43,70,128. The country recorded 1,115 deaths in 24 hours, pushing the toll to 73,890.