New Delhi: The ongoing wave of Covid-19 has affected a large number of politicians and government officials at the central as well as state levels in India, with many of them being forced to sit out of action.
Among those who have tested positive this week are Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday, and a handful of Union ministers, including Minister for Heavy Industries Mahendra Nath Pandey, who was hospitalised Monday, and Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar, who tested positive Thursday.
This evening I got myself tested for Covid and was found positive. My symptoms are very light and there is no other problem. All those who came into contact with me today, I request them to isolate themselves and undergo Covid-Test.
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) January 6, 2022
Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai also tested positive for Covid Thursday, which raised concerns about a possible spread of infection among personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), since a day ago, he had attended an event at the Shaurya Officer’s Institute in New Delhi.
Several senior civil servants, too, have tested positive for the virus, including Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P.K. Mishra, government sources told ThePrint. Those laid low by Covid include many officials in the Ministry of Education, including additional secretary Rakesh Ranjan, three joint secretaries, and more than half a dozen junior officials, sources in the government said.
Concerns about CAPF event
A day before he tested positive for Covid, MoS Rai had distributed the last 10 Ayushman CAPF cards to personnel of seven forces: The Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), and National Security Guard (NSG).
मेरी कोविड जांच रिपोर्ट पॉजिटिव आई है। मैंने खुद को पूरी तरह आइसुलेट कर लिया है। मेरे संपर्क में आये लोगों से निवेदन है कि सतर्कता बरतते हुए जरूरी कदम उठाएं।
— Nityanand Rai (@nityanandraibjp) January 6, 2022
Rai was also in Bihar from 31 December to 4 January. He participated in several programmes in different districts of the state, including the BJP state morcha programme in Patna. Later, four Bihar ministers, including both Deputy CMs, Renu Devi and Tarkishore Prasad, tested positive for Covid-19.
State leaders, bureaucrats also affected
In several states and Union territories, the current Covid wave has hit politicians, including Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, and government officials.
Karnataka’s Minister for Primary and Secondary Education B.C. Nagesh tested positive for Covid-19 Saturday. On Wednesday, Gujarat MoS Jitubhai Chaudhari announced he had contracted the virus. At least four senior IAS officers are also Covid positive in Gujarat, including Manoj Aggarwal, the additional chief secretary for health.
Bengal has been impacted hard too, with Trinamool Congress leader Babul Supriyo and former sports minister and cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla testing positive. On Saturday, the minister of power and sports Aroop Biswas was hospitalised, although he was discharged Tuesday.
The state health department has also been severely affected. Dr Ajay Chakraborty, director of health services, Dr Debashish Bhattacharya, director of medical education, Dr Saumitra Mohan, director of the National Health Mission, and Santa Dutta, director of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), have all tested positive. Kolkata Police commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal has also contracted the virus.
As reported by ThePrint earlier, the winter session of the Maharashtra state assembly and at least five high-profile political weddings in December have been linked with more than 50 journalists, police personnel, state government staffers, MLAs, and numerous ministers in the Uddhav Thackeray-led state cabinet testing positive for Covid.
(With inputs from Abantika Ghosh, Moushumi Das Gupta, Unnati Sharma, and Sreyashi Dey)
(Edited by Asavari Singh)