<br>He voluntarily took the decision after a close aide turned out to be Covid-19 positive, sending alarm bells ringing in the minister's immediate public, political, security and family circles.
The minister's decision came around a couple of days ago and he also underwent a Covid-19 test through a government hospital, which turned out to be negative as he heaved a sigh of relief.
However, as an extreme measure - and given his onerous public duties in the ongoing 35-day long lockdown - Awhad insisted on retreating into 'self-quarantine' at home.
"Yes, I am now in self-quarantine at home. Nothing is wrong with me. But this is a precautionary measure to ensure that all others around me are safe," Awhad confirmed to IANS in a brief interaction through an aide's phone.
Sources close to the senior minister and other Nationalist Congress Party leaders declined to comment on the issue, but they lauded Awhad's move to retreat into self-quarantine as an 'exemplary step'.
Political sources said that the minister has reportedly requested all his supporters, party workers and admirers to allow him to remain in 'self-isolation' undisturbed over the next few days for everybody's good health.
This is the second instance in a week with Coronavirus sniffing uncomfortably close to a VVIP in Maharashtra as the state and Mumbai grapple with the highest number of Covid-19 cases and casualties.
Last Monday (April 6), the state went in a spin after a tea-vendor selling tea outside 'Matoshri' - the private residence of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray - tested positive.
Till April 12, Maharashtra has recorded 149 Covid-19 deaths - which is more than one-third of all the casualties in India, and 1,982 plus positive cases, as a worried Thackeray extended and decided to continue with the state lockdown from April 14 till April 30.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])