Fadnavis with Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna last week
Fadnavis with Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Patna last week

Mumbai/Patna: Former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP’s in-charge for Bihar Assembly elections Devendra Fadnavis has tested positive for Covid-19, the leader disclosed on Saturday. With voting starting on October 28, Fadnavis could miss the action.

“I have been working every single day since the lockdown but now it seems that God wants me to stop for a while and take a break! I have tested #COVID19 positive and in isolation. Taking all medication and treatment as per the advice of the doctors," said Fadnavis in a tweet.

In another post on the microblogging site, he added, "Those who have come in contact with me are advised to get Covid 19 tests done. Take care everyone!"

The 50-year-old BJP leader had attended rallies in Bihar on Thursday and Friday. His illness comes days after the Election Commission expressed concerns over violation of social distancing norms at poll gatherings in the state.

Fadnavis had insisted that he be admitted to a government hospital and not a private facility. Accordingly, he is being treated at state-run Saint George Hospital in South Mumbai, said party sources.

Between October 19 and 21, Fadnavis had travelled to flood-ravaged districts in Maharashtra. On Thursday after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a Rs 10,000-crore package for relief for the rain-affected districts, Fadnavis had attacked the government saying it had betrayed the farmers who had been hit hard. "Nature has done injustice, now the government is also taking revenge," he had said.

Fadnavis had been overseeing the BJP’s election campaign along with Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who tested positive for Covid on Thursday and was admitted to AIIMS. Fadnavis had been addressing three poll rallies a day.

BJP insiders said Fadnavis won’t be able to coordinate the poll campaign nor will he be in a position to address rallies as he will need a minimum 14 days for recovery. In his absence, BJP general secretary in charge of Bihar Bhupendra Yadav may steer the campaign which is gathering momentum.

BJP’s Member of Parliament from Katihar, Dulal Chandra Goswami, was also found to be Covid positive on Saturday. He has been admitted to a hospital.

Two former union ministers Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Syed Shahnawaj Hussain too have pulled out of the party’s campaign after contracting the virus. In Kumhrar, BJP legislator Arun Kumar Sinha had to abandon campaigning due to Covid. In his absence, his Aashish is campaigning.

Last month, 79 BJP leaders who had attended a meeting had tested positive. They included general secretaries Bhupinder Yadav, Saudan Singh, state president Sanjay Jaiswal, and a dozen MLAs.

Two cabinet colleagues in the NDA dispensation—Vinod Singh and Kapildeo Kamat—have succumbed to the disease that they had got during campaigning. On Saturday, a former agriculture minister in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet, Narendra Singh, was shifted to AIIMS following confirmation of Corona. He was campaigning in Jamui until Friday evening.

The three-phase elections to the 243-member Bihar assembly will begin on October 28. The second and the third phases will be held on November 3 and 7 and the results will be declared on November 10.

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Free Press Journal