Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will start with a day-long trip to Pune on Thursday in his mission to assess the ground realities about the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in the state.
The CM will visit Pune, where he will review the pandemic situation and the preventive measures that have been undertaken to contain the viral disease in the western Maharashtra region that comprises five districts such as Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur, Satara and Sangli.
The move comes following trenchant criticism from the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
‘The CM will cover all the six regions in a phase-wise manner. He will start with Pune, which is the headquarters of western Maharashtra. It will be a day-long trip. While the schedule for the other regions is yet to be firmed up,” said an official from the CM’s office (CMO).
Though Thackeray has been regularly reviewing the Covid-19 outbreak by holding virtual meetings, he hasn’t ventured out yet, except for a few hotspots in Mumbai, the epicentre of the contagion in the country as well as Maharashtra.
Last Saturday, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had taken a dig at the CM for digging his heels in Mumbai.
“Even a school student can say that our Uddhavji is not going anywhere,” Patil had told a Marathi news channel.
Pawar, who was defending Thackeray till last week, on Tuesday, spoke out and urged the CM to tour the state and meet the public, who are reeling under the impact of the viral outbreak.
On Tuesday, Sharad Pawar (79), who heads the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is a part of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government, along with Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the Congress, made a comment in passing about the CM is expected to tour the state to assess the pandemic situation on the ground that hasn’t happened to date. Pawar said he travels more than the CM.
“He (Thackeray) is expected to monitor from the state capital as the head of the government, but that doesn’t prevent him from travelling. He must make it a point to tour the state by taking out some time from his busy schedule, meet the public and take them into confidence, which is yet to happen,” the veteran leader told a Marathi news channel.
He was, however, quick to put his observation into perspective.
“I don’t think that the CM is not taking everyone into confidence. He also speaks to everyone. The only difference is, I’m more visible as I keep travelling. He (Thackeray) doesn’t travel, and work from one place,” Pawar clarified when he was asked about the disputes within the MVA’s ranks based on the swirling allegations that the CM not taking the allies into confidence.
Last Saturday, while defending the CM, Pawar had said Thackeray was urged to oversee and monitor the functioning of his team from Mumbai, as he is the head of the government. He had also singled out Thackeray for fulsome praise, as the latter was working round-the-clock in a bid to flatten the Covid-19 curve with single-minded devotion.
Contrary to the CM, Pawar visited across parts of Covid-19-hit Maharashtra and reviewed preparations made by the local authorities along with the state health minister Rajesh Tope to contain the pandemic outbreak.
Last Saturday, he was in Aurangabad city where he took stock of the situation. He also launched a campaign, “Mission Zero — Aurangabad” that aims to bring down the Covid-19-related-death toll to zero in the city. The previous day he was in Nashik. While on July 20, he was in Solapur district.
Leader of Opposition in the legislative assembly and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis also recently travelled around the state to review the Covid-19 situation.
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra legislative council Pravin Darekar, too, had visited various Covid Care Centres and hospitals in the state.