YSRCP MLA Jakkampudi Raja, alongside scores of supporters, was seen dancing and celebrating in a public procession on Wednesday in Rajahmundry city, violating physical distancing norms and other COVID-19 restrictions.
The Rajanagaram MLA’s act has drawn heavy criticism from various corners and Opposition parties for flouting health safety protocol. Incidentally, the procession, which took place on a public road, was meant to celebrate the arrival of newly-launched ambulances in Rajahmundry.
YSRCP MLA Jakkampudi Raja & supporters gathered in large numbers flouting lockdown restrictions in Rajahmundry, to inaugurate the new ambulance alloted. Amidst drum rolls & cheer, they broke coconuts & a pumpkin and did a puja to welcome the ambulance. #AndhraPradesh pic.twitter.com/NV8rH3Cihk— Paul Oommen (@Paul_Oommen) July 1, 2020
The visuals, which were widely shared on social media, have prompted backlash. The videos show that distancing was not being enforced, and attendees can be seen conducting religious rituals, such as breaking coconuts and pumpkins.
The official account of the Telugu Desam Party tweeted, "People are criticising the dances and stupid actions of YSRCP MLA Jakkampudi Raja and YSRCP leaders at a time when COVID-19 is spreading."
On Wednesday, Andhra Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched 1088 ambulances, including 282 basic life support vehicles and 676 Mobile Medical Units (MMU) for 108 and 104 emergency life support.
TNM has reached out to MLA Jakkampudi for comment on the open celebration conducted by him and his partymen in violation of guidelines issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, his office has said he is unavailable.
The East Godavari District Medical and Health Officer M Mallikarjun told TNM that he is not the correct authority to take action.
"When an MLA dances like that (violating COVID-19 guidelines), the Chief Minister or the party should take action. How can a District Officer take action? We will inform them not to do such things."
"On my own, I cannot take suo moto action. But if someone gives me a complaint against the MLA then I will take action," he added.
East Godavari district has 956 active COVID-19 cases, against a total of 1331. Rajahmundry city also has containment zones due to cases in the area.