C.R. Patil, the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) state unit in Gujarat, has been hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19. Patil was admitted to Apollo Hospital on September 8 after complaining of fatigue and his medical report confirmed the infection the next day.
Earlier, BJP state spokesperson Bharat Pandya had been hospitalised in Ahmedabad after experiencing trouble while breathing, and was found to be COVID-19 positive later. Soon after, Hasmukh Patel, Member of Parliament from Ahmedabad East, Kirit Solanki, Member of Parliament from Ahmedabad West, six local leaders who attended party meetings in its headquarters in Gandhinagar and other local leaders in multiple districts also tested positive and are under home quarantine.
Patil had organised political tours across multiple districts in North Gujarat and Saurashtra earlier this month. In a three-day tour that began on September 3, he visited Banaskantha, Patan, Mehsana and Gandhinagar. He held public meetings at Dheesa, Patan, Mehsana, Kalol in Gandhinagar district and at Himmatnagar and Modasa in Aravalli district.
Notably, after being appointed the president of the state’s BJP unit in July this year, Patil has conducted at least four tours, including South Gujarat, Saurashtra and North Gujarat, where large numbers of party workers and supporters had gathered, flouting all norms of social distancing.
In a video that went viral on social media, BJP workers and supporters were seen performing garba during Patil’s political tour. That aside, Patil had also opened the gates of the party headquarters at Gandhinagar, and workers had been gathering in huge numbers to greet the new president.
The BJP’s headquarters – Shree Kamalam in Gandhinagar – has been sealed and the party has cancelled ‘Chintan Shivir’, a two-day convention that was to take place on September 11 and September 12. However, the ruling party has announced a five-day monsoon session of the Assembly which is to commence from September 21.
About a month after the first case COVID -19 was detected in Ahmedabad, the ruling party had strictly enforced social distancing norms across the state. In fact, the BJP had decided to close state and district borders during various phases of the lockdown, leading to multiple arrests of migrant workers who attempted to go back home post-lockdown.
Many of the migrant workers who clashed with the police faced lathi charge, tear gas and remained arrested for days for flouting social distancing norms. Multiple people were manhandled by local police in various districts of the state for not wearing a mask or for failing to maintain social distancing.
However, no action has been taken against any BJP leader or worker so far for openly flouting all norms of social distancing during the tour called by their party chief.
Interestingly, the permission granted to Patil’s political rally came after permission of the Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad was denied by the court.
Following the infection spreading among the rank and file of the BJP, multiple activists and opposition party leaders have raised questions over the permission granted to Patil at a time when COVID-19 cases in the state have crossed the one lakh mark.
As of now, 1,09,627 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been detected in Gujarat, of which there are 16,132 cases are active. A total of 3,165 people have died from COVID-19 in the state so far.