The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said the Opposition parties in Maharashtra that criticising Chief Minister Uddha Thackeray when he is making people aware of the coronavirus situation was akin to “breaching the trust of the public”.

“...The Chief minister is explaining the danger to the people, so criticising is akin to the breach of trust of the public of Maharashtra,” an editorial in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana said.

Maharashtra, which reported 6,971 infections on Monday, is currently the worst-hit state by the coronavirus in the country. It is among the five states, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Punjab, that overall account for 86.3% of the 14,199 new coronavirus infections reported in India on Monday.

Thackeray had on Sunday asked people to follow “Covid-appropriate” behaviour and safety norms. The chief minister had said that he would observe the situation for a week to 15 days and then decide if there was a need to impose another lockdown.

Following his announcement, Bharatiya Janata party leader Pravin Darekar had criticised the chief minister. “Do not create panic among the people in the state,” Darekar had said, according to the editorial. “Do not act like a persecuting ruler.”

The Shiv Sena asked if talking about the reality was equal to spreading terror. It pointed out that All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director General Randeep Guleria had said developing herd immunity would be difficult because of a new Covid-19 strain found in Maharashtra. “The new variants can even cause re-infections in people who have developed antibodies to the virus, according to Dr Guleria,” the editorial said.

It asked if the AIIMS chief’s statements were an attempt to spread terror. “If the BJP leaders in Maharashtra feel that the director of AIIMS is misleading the country, they should go to Delhi and start a vigorous movement on the doorsteps of AIIMS.” the Shiv Sena said. “Not only the country’s health minister [Harsh Vardhan], letters of disapproval should be given at the doorstep of the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] and the President [Ram Nath Kovind].”

The Marathi daily said that the recent surge in coronavirus cases was a matter of concern and that opposition parties should talk about it carefully. “We have the rest of life left to play politics, but only if the coronavirus gives that opportunity,” the Shiv Sena pointed out.

The editorial admitted that imposing lockdown would negatively impact the economy. “Due to the lockdown, the back of small traders, working class and toiling labourers would be broken,” it said adding that the central government would need to help to find a viable solution. “States like Maharashtra should get a special economic package from the Centre for this task,” it said. “For getting such an economic package, we will not object if the opposition also argue with Modi.”

The opposition in the state is “not of Pakistani or Afghan lineage”, the editorial said, adding that it was also from the soil of Maharashtra.

It said that the coronavirus affects everyone, pointing out ministers such as Rajesh Tope and Chhagan Bhujbal have been infected. “What orders can be given to the people then?” it asked. “The novel coronavirus does not spare anyone.”