On Monday, a video from the Wardha district of Maharashtra, of people flouting all social distancing norms to gather outside a politician’s house, went viral on social media.
News reports said that the people had gathered to celebrate the birthday of BJP MLA Dadarao Keche, but this was no spontaneous show of joy—instead, the MLA was accused of promising free ration to them if they showed up.
Keche, who now has an FIR registered against him, has denied this, saying he only invited 21 labourers who had lost their jobs and that his rivals had spread a rumour about food grain distribution, leading to the crowds.
Even as India is going through a 21-day lockdown aimed at reducing the number of coronavirus cases, the scene outside Keche’s house was a familiar one—many Indian politicians spend lavish amounts on their birthday celebrations, offering gifts and donations and accepting garlands and bouquets from followers.
இப்போ பரவாதா ஆபிசர்ஸ்— jaffar sathiq (@jaffarsathiq) April 6, 2020
Arvi's BJP MLA Dadarao Keche on his birthday, pic.twitter.com/WsUgKKRMjH
Keche’s assembly constituency Arvi is located in Maharashtra, which currently has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country. Administrators have been racing to control the spread of the highly infectious disease, especially in rural areas, where underdeveloped medical facilities and sparse flow of information pose a big challenge.
While sub-divisional officer Harish Dharmik said Keche will face action under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the MLA has claimed that it was a “political conspiracy” by his opponents.
“I had appealed to the people four days back that no one should visit me on my
birthday. Still some party workers visited me. My rivals conspired and told people that ration is being distributed at my residence, even when I did not call anyone here. This was done to defame me,” he told ANI.
It is also no surprise that amid a poorly planned national...