In a press conference on Monday, Karnatakaâ€™s Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar quipped that he had gone into quarantine twice. Two weeks ago, the minister went into quarantine at home after three of his family members tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
"We (politicians) do not have to work in hospitals but we have to work with our family members and neighbours and take precautions in this time," he said days after resuming his work. Minister Sudhakar was formerly in charge of managing the COVID-19 situation in Bengaluru.
Several political leaders including MLAs, MLCs and cadre of various political parties in Karnataka have tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the last few weeks. A few politicians, who have tested positive for coronavirus in the BJP, include Mangaluru North MLA Bharat Shetty and Sedam MLA Rajkumar Patil Telkur. BJP MLC MK Pranesh from Chikkamagaluru has also tested positive.
MLAs in opposition parties too, test positive
Legislators in opposition parties too, have tested positive for the coronavirus. Congress leader from Kunigal, HD Ranganath tested positive on July 6. Ranaganath was involved in DK Shivakumarâ€™s oath-taking ceremony. Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh quarantined himself at home after Ranganath tested positive.
Political leaders are wary of meeting large groups of people in their offices or in their residences due to spike in the number of cases in the past ten days. This is because some legislators across political parties are involved in efforts to help their constituents, especially in Bengaluru, to procure beds in hospitals or find COVID-19 Care Centres. This, Congress leaders say, is due to the state governmentâ€™s â€śinability to control and manageâ€ť the situation when the COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President and Kanakapura MLA DK Shivakumar held a cycle rally on June 29 to protest the hike in fuel prices across the country. The fuel prices in India were increasing since June 7 after oil companies began the daily price revision mechanism during the lockdown.
â€śIn some situations, we have to protest against the government, especially since there is a lot that the government is accountable for. No one is talking about what went wrong and why the government did not make necessary arrangements to ensure they are prepared when the cases surged. Some MLAs are trying to help constituents but many are not,â€ť a Congress leader said.
Not an option for ministers
However, ministers have to be on the ground and cannot reschedule meetings. "Usually, a minister meets a number of people from across the state in the offices at Vidhana Soudha. Some people also turn up at the minister's residence to discuss their grievances. We have asked people to discuss their issues over phone and wear masks, maintain distancing if they visit the office or residence of the minister," an official working in the office of JC Madhuswamy, Karnataka's Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.
Madhuswamy has held meetings in the last few days with officials from Chikkanayakanahalli in Tumakuru where a spike in cases was reported. He also addressed grievances from the public when a goat-herd in Godekere village tested positive for the virus. After residents pressed Madhuswamy, he asked the Animal Husbandry department to quarantine and test around 40-50 goats.