In his address to the state through social media platforms, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday focused on the worsening Covid-19 scenario even as he alleged that attempts were being made to defame the state and that he could weather both, political storms and the coronavirus.
Thackeray asked people to take precautions and follow social distancing norms the as coronavirus, he pointed out, could take a “monstrous form”. He also warned them that the state will have to start penalising those violating social distancing norms to curb its spread.
While he did not make a political speech, the chief minister said that attempts were being made to defame Maharashtra and his silence should not be taken as a weakness or failure to respond. “Right now, I won’t talk about politics but attempts are on to defame Maharashtra. I don’t talk, that doesn’t mean, I don’t have answers. I am sitting on the chair of the chief minister and have to act accordingly,” he said.
He made no mention of actor Kangana Ranaut and the political controversy that unfolded in the city last week over the Mumbai civic body demolishing parts of an office owned by the 33-year-old celebrity.
Senior Shiv Sena leaders said the chief minister had decided not to give any importance to the actor and had asked all leaders to follow suit by ignoring her.
Recently, Ranaut had likened Mumbai to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), triggering a sharp reaction from Sena leaders who accused her of insulting the city and its police.
On coronavirus, Thackeray said: “The scenario that I was afraid of is before us now. The cases of coronavirus are rising and will continue to rise. The cases have again started increasing in Mumbai and other areas. They are spreading in rural areas as well. There is a concern that it can take a disastrous form. The World Health Organisation (WHO) too has stated that this can be an indication for another major crisis.”
“Like other countries, the state will have to start penalising people for violating social distancing. For instance, people will be fined for not wearing a mask at a public place; action against people for crowding a public place etc. We will have to take such steps as people are not following the norms seriously,” the chief minister added.
He said that the state government doesn’t want to re-impose lockdown restrictions but this can be avoided only when people start taking all the precautions, he warned.
Thackeray also challenged the Opposition’s charge that he was missing in action on the ground. He said, “They make allegations that I don’t go on field but with the help of video-conference technology, I have already reached the remotest areas where they have yet to reach.”
He also asked people to share responsibility while mentioning that the government’s new initiative of house-to-house survey will begin from September 15. The survey called ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ aims to identify each and every citizen for Influenza Like Illness (ILI), Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) and citizens with co-morbidities. A team of health workers will inspect every person of a family and suggest available services for the diseases. Those with Covid symptoms will also be recommended for swab test etc.