Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday put his former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his line of fire for playing politics while the state government was battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thackeray, in his address to the State, said that his government will not indulge in politics “as it does not suit the culture of Maharashtra”. The chief minister also said that the Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, which now has 47,190 cases, are likely to rise further by May end.
Maharashtra has been clocking over 2,000 fresh cases daily since last week, but the Centre’s projection that the state would have around 1.25-1.50 lakh cases has not come true
“I am still of the opinion that these are testing times, and that nobody should indulge in politics now. Even if you do, we will not because we have got the responsibility of Maharashtra and the people of Maharashtra have faith in us. And I will never let that faith (in us) go in vain,” Thackeray said.
“As I have honestly said the Centre is helping us (State). We are still facing issue like GST refund, it is still to reach us. Should I make it an issue? Earlier PPE kits were not coming; there is still a deficiency in the supply of medicine. Should I yell over it? We are still to get the money for the trains. If we start doing this, then this is not humanity… Just playing politics for the sake of it does not suit the culture of Maharashtra. I will preserve Maharashtra and its culture. It does not fit in my principle to play politics at times of difficulty and I will not do it,” the CM said.
The BJP, led by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, had staged Maharashtra Bachao (Save Maharashtra) agitation on May 22 and demanded a financial package worth Rs 50,000 crore for farmers and daily wage earners.
In a veiled jibe at the BJP, Thackeray said that the state government is not going to announce “empty packages” but do “actual” work.
“Some people are asking why have you not announced a package? We are giving everything. At the moment, the crisis in front of us is related to public health. Till now many packages worth lakhs and crores have been announced. It is packaged nicely when you open it is an empty box. Our Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government is not the one to announce empty packages,” he said in his address on Sunday afternoon.
Thackeray also outlined the state government’s steps taken for the people and migrant labourers including widening the scope of Shiv Bhojan scheme, following up with the Centre to give foodgrains for people who do not have ration cards, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana, etc. He said that 5.5 to 6 lakh migrant workers have been provided food till now.
“These steps are beyond any package. getting food and medical treatment is important. All these schemes are for all classes because virus does not know any class or religion. The public insurance scheme gives 100% free treatment to all. This is a package. Should we announce it and advertise it or should we keep working,” Thackeray asked.
Speaking about the measures to tackle Covid-19 outbreak, Thackeray said that the state has prepared for a surge in numbers by the end of this month. “There was a projection that Maharashtra could have 1.25-1.50 lakh coronavirus positive cases by May end. But, currently we have 33,786 [active] Covid-19 cases, around 13,404 have recovered. This is thanks to the lockdown and discipline maintained by you,” he said. “Cases will increase now, we are preparing and created hospital infrastructure for it. By the end of May, we will make 14,000 beds available, currently, we have already created around 7,000 beds including 3000 in our field hospitals.”
The CM also appealed to people to celebrate Eid inside their homes and not come on the streets. “Several exemptions have been made but it’s important not to crowds shops when they open. We will still need to follow instructions, otherwise, we will have to close it again. We need to get our life back on track. Congregations, religious functions are still not allowed. Celebrate at home to emerge out of this situation in a better and effective way,” he said.