What is so special for political parties to allow meetings, asks Kerala HC

A petition moved in the Kerala High Court on Thursday against an order of the Kasargod Collector withdrawing an order imposing restrictions to prevent resurgence of Covid cases in the district left the state’s ruling CPI-M in a spot when the court asked what is so special for political parties.

The Congress and the BJP slammed the CPI-M which, they say, had used its power to withdraw the Kasargod Collector’s order to enable their party’s district party committee three day meeting, that began on Friday to be held smoothly.

Around 185 leaders of the party are attending the meeting, when the rule was not more 50 can assemble.

The Congress said the state government’s Covid committee, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who appeared online from his hospital bed in the US, on Thursday tweaked the rules to apply a new yardstick that the test positivity rate need not be taken and instead bed occupancy in hospitals having Covid patients be considered.

The review meeting also decided to see that January 23 and 30 (both Sundays) should be observed as a lockdown and its here the Congress and the BJP slammed the CPI-M, noting that when the entire state is asked to remain indoors, they are holding their party meetings at Kasargod and Thrissur.

The court hearing the petition asked noted that for the Republic Day, the maximum number of people who can take part is 50.

Asking what is so special for political parties, it passed an interim order stating that not more than 50 people can assemble.

Consequent to this, the CPI-M has decided to cut short its party meetings in these two districts and now they will end on Saturday, giving the opposition a moral victory.

The two opposition parties said that the CPI-M’s marathon district party meetings had turned into a “super-spreader”.

Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan claimed that since the Health Department has been taken over by the CPI-M leadership, they decide everything according to their convenience.

“While it is the test positivity rate which determines the clamping of Covid protocols but unfortunately it has been discarded to hold the three-day district party meetings at Thrissur and Kasargod (which began on Friday). For that, they have come with a new benchmark of number of hospitalisation due to Covid in hospitals. Kasargod has a TPR of 36, while in Thrissur, it is 34,” he said.

He also claimed the recently-held Thiruvananthapuram district CPI-M meeting turned into a super spreader with around 100 people turning Covid positive.

Health Minister Veena George, who met the media in the state capital earlier in the day, denied all the allegations levelled by the Congress leadership.

“Kerala is passing through the third wave and we adopted different strategies in the first and second wave and this time the experts decided to go on the hospitalisation of patients in hospitals as the yardstick. We only apply scientific methods of control and I will not reply to political criticism,” she said, questioning whether the opposition wants the state to come under total lockdown and resume economic activity.

Meanwhile, CPI-M state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who inaugurated the Thrissur district party meeting, said the party does not decide on Covid protocols as that is done by the government.

“Does it mean, that we want our people to turn Covid positive and does it mean that only CPI-M people are now turning positive. Wish to know which party meeting did film actor Mammootty attend for him to have turned Covid positive. Satheesan should simply not level allegations,” he said.

Meanwhile after the court came down heavily, Balakrishnan, in a statement without mentioning the court’s remarks, asked all party workers and feeder organisations members to see that they reach out to all the people who are suffering on account of the pandemic.




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