Quarantine politics: Congress MPs and MLAs asked to self-quarantine. No quarantine for LSGD minister?

The opposition calls it a political decision

A controversy is brewing over the decision of the Palakkad Health department to quarantine five Congress leaders (MPs and MLAs), public workers, the police and the media persons who were present at the Walayar check post, (Kerala-Tamil Nadu border) on May 9. A person who arrived from Chennai, who was present in the area, tested positive on May 12. However, the decision is seen by the opposition for political reasons than health, as a way of punishing those who had spoken up for Keralites stranded at the border.

MPs T N Prathapan and Ramya Haridas speaking to Keralities stranded at the Walayar check post

If one has to go by the decision taken by the Health department today, then the Palakkad MP V K Sreekandan, Thrissur MP TN Prathapan, Alathur MP Ramya Haridas, Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil and Wadakanchery MLA Anil Akkara will have to self-quarantine for the next 14 days.

The official release of Public Relations Department (PRD) in Palakkad on Thursday morning did not specifically name the MPs and MLAs, however it stated that all who were present there on May 9, will have to self-quarantine.

All the five Congress leaders had visited Walayar check post on May 9 to meet nearly 100 Keralities who were held up at the check post as they did not have the requisite passes issued by district collectors of their home districts to enter Kerala.

The State government had taken a decision on May 8 not to allow anyone coming from other states without passes issued by district collectors as it could adversely affect the Covid-19 preventive measures put in place by the State Health department.

The UDF and the Congress leaders had come out strongly against the decision of Palakkad Health department which consists of DMO K P Reetha and other senior doctors of government hospitals. “It is a part of the CPM’s political agenda. The Covid-19 positive patient (a native of Malappuram) had reached Walyaar on May 9 and came near the check post at 10.30 am to cross over to Kerala side aand he fell ill after the 12-hour long wait on the Tamil Nadu side. We have not gone near this person as he was ill and resting in the shade near a river on the Coimbatore side. He tested positive on May 12 and today the medical board has come out with such an order. On May 13, the CPM district committee had passed a resolution demanding quarantine of five Congress MPs and MLAs and the DMO acted as per this resolution,” says MLA Anil Akkara said.

He also said that as a responsible citizen he would abide by the directions of the Health officials. However, none of the officials had contacted him, the MLA added.

He said that if the MLAs, MPs, the police officials and the media persons who had visited Walayar check post on May 9 are being asked to go into quarantine then the same yardstick must be applied to the state Local Self Government Department (LSGD) Minister A C Moideen who had reached a hotel in Guruvayur at 3.30 a.m. to receive 32 NRIs on May 8. He too is bound by the same rules.

When the NRIs were flown in from Abu Dhabi to Kochi airport in the first ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ flight to Kochi on the night of May 7, the minister was present at the Guruvayur hotel in the wee hours on May 8 to receive them.

A couple in that first batch of NRIs that reached the Guruvayur hotel had later tested positive. The PRD department of the Kerala government had released the photographs of Moideen speaking to NRIs at the hotel in Guruvayur. The photograph shows that the minister had flouted the state’s Covid-19 rules and lowered his mask. The Thrissur District Collector, S Shanavas, Guruvayur municipal chairperson, M Rathi, among others were also present at the hotel to receive the NRIs.

While Industries Minister, E P Jayarajan and Health Minister, K K Shailaja were keen on sending the Congress MPs and MLAs into quarantine, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala has called it a political vendetta as the MPs and MLAs had taken up the issue of Keralities who were stranded at Walayar border due to the delay in issuing passes by district collectors in Kerala.

UDF convener Benny Behanan lashed out at the Health Minister Shailaja citing that before the Palakkad Health department could take a decision about quarantining people, the minister had demanded that the MPs and MLAs should be quarantined first making it clearly a political decision. “It is the experts who need to make the final call on whether to quarantine persons or not and not the minister,” he said.

Thrissur District Collector and DMO were not available for comments regarding the demand to quarantine A C Modieen and others. FIR has been registered against a CPI (M) worker in Kunnamkulam for spreading fake news on social media that MLA Shafi Parambil was in quarantine after contracting Covid-19 during his visit to Walayar Check Post.

Former Palakkad MP M B Rajesh said that it was upto the Health department to take a decision on whether those who visited the hotel in Guruvayur to receive the NRIs need to go into quarantine or not.

Cover Image: LSGD Minister A C Moideen receiving NRIs at the hotel in Guruvayur early on May 8. They had arrived on the Abu Dhabi- Kochi, Vande Bharat mission flight late on May 7.

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