Mumbai, Sep 6 (IANS) As Maharashtra stands on the brink of a potential "third wave" of Covid, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday fervently appealed to all political parties and the common people to put off all protests and avoid crowds during the upcoming festival season.
Thackeray's plea came barely 72 hours before the state prepares to celebrate the 10-day long Ganeshotsav starting from September 10, albeit in a subdued manner, after all festivities were cancelled in 2020.
"I appeal to all... Let's avoid large public gatherings, political protests, meetings or rallies. Let's prioritise the health and lives of the citizens," the CM said, after a review meeting with the state Disaster Management Department.
Warning that the "third wave" with a variety of new variants of the Covid-19 virus could be "round the corner", Thackeray said if the people don't take it seriously, the state may be forced to pay a heavy price.
"The situation could go out of control in view of the spike in the daily cases, so we must take all precautions from our end and ensure that the 'third wave' doesn't hit us," he urged.
In a special plea to the political parties, the CM said: "I appeal to all, those in the government and in the Opposition... Please exercise precautions now as peoples' lives are more important. Who would like to impose restrictions on festivals or religious celebrations, but the situation is different now."
Referring to Kerala which is reporting around 30,000 cases daily, Thackeray said it's a "danger signal" even for Maharashtra, and the "third wave" has severely disrupted lives in other countries like the US and China.
He reiterated that festivals can be celebrated even later, but for that peoples' health and lives must be safeguarded at all costs.
Contrary to expectations, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has not announced fresh curbs on the Ganeshosav, the state's biggest public festival that witnesses millions on the streets for 10 days.
However, Congress' Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar indicated that certain restrictions are likely to be imposed as there has been a fresh spurt in Covid cases in the state.
Nationalist Congress Party National Spokesperson and Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik exhorted all political parties to heed the CM's appeal in public interest and avoid all events that attract crowds.
However, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashish Shelar slammed the MVA leaders asking why all restrictions should be only for the general public when the ruling party leaders were allowed to address huge rallies or public meetings.