K’taka Health Min Sriramulu takes part in large procession without mask, distancing

Karnataka Health Minister Sriramulu said that the event, where he was welcomed by huge crowds and a massive apple garland, was not a planned one.
K’taka Health Min Sriramulu takes part in large procession without mask, distancing
K’taka Health Min Sriramulu takes part in large procession without mask, distancing
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Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu has some advice for people in the state: wear masks, maintain physical distancing. This, of course, is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has affected nearly two lakh people in India. These rules, it would appear, are meant only for lesser mortals. For the Minister was giving out said advice amidst jostling crowds of people during a procession in Chitradurga where he certainly was not wearing a mask.

The Minister has landed himself in fresh controversy after he took part in a procession involving a large crowd where no physical distancing was observed. 

BJP leader Sriramulu was seen with hundreds of people, without wearing a mask, and was even welcomed by a massive apple garland. The procession was part of an event called ‘Baagina Arpane’, to pay offerings to the Vedavathi River.

Responding to the controversy, Minister Sriramulu claimed that the gathering was not part of a scheduled programme. “I want to give as much awareness to the people as possible. This programme was not a scheduled programme. I was just going to come here and leave but the workers gathered,” he said, speaking to reporters.

Ironically, at the event, he requested people who had gathered to follow physical distancing and wear masks, while not wearing a mask himself.

“I request all of you to follow social distancing. We have passed guidelines and people should wear masks and use sanitisers,” Sriramulu said.

After the event, Sriramulu cancelled the remainder of the programmes. Though the Minister resides in Ballari district, he is an MLA from Molakalmuru constituency in Chitradurga, which borders his home district. 

Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa slammed the Health Minister and demanded a case be filed against him.

Speaking to TNM, Ugrappa asked, “Sriramulu is a government representative. He was giving an offering to the Vedavati River. Thousands gathered without masks or distancing. Isn’t this a violation of government guidelines? What is the Chitradurga district administration doing? There was a large apple necklace with 2,500 apples. Isn't this a preplanned event?”  

He added, “Sriramulu has violated the law. A case should be filed against him.”

This is not the first time Sriramulu, the state’s Health Minister, has courted trouble this year. Before the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Karnataka in March, he was criticised for holding a lavish nine-day wedding for his daughter, culminating in a grand event at Bengaluru's Palace Grounds. Thousands of guests attended the wedding, which took place on March 5, when the Health Department in the state was scrambling to prepare for COVID-19 cases.

Since then, Karnataka has recorded 3,408 coronavirus cases so far, including 39 cases in Chitradurga district.

Sriramulu, who was initially tasked with appearing for daily briefings of the Health Department, was unceremoniously removed from this responsibility at the end of March after a power struggle with Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar.

Eventually in April, both Ministers were relieved from COVID-19 responsibilities and Education Minister Suresh Kumar was appointed the official in-charge of daily briefings.

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