Masks & social distancing are for photo ops, but TheBengaluruLive presents the ‘other pictures’
Everyone knows that ‘practise what you preach’ has never been the strong point of namma rulers. It is by now common knowledge, especially in these Covid pandemic times, that rules and penalties apply to the aam aadmi but not to our politicos.
The question that is on everybody’s lips (but few dare to ask) is: Who will bell the cat? One certainly cannot expect the IAS ‘bosses’ who run Karnataka, irrespective of the party in power, to do so, for fear of antagonizing their own political ‘bosses’.
In a classic example of how the administration can come down hard on the common man, the Health Department – which foresees a second wave of the virus in Karnataka in January or February next year – has imposed heavy penalties of up to Rs 10,000 on commercial establishments and function organisers if they fail to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing among visitors/attendees. But many a time, IAS officers are themselves glaring violators of these same rules.
Above the law!
TheBengaluruLive presents here pictorial evidence of both politicians and bureaucrats who disregard the need for social distancing and masks even while holding important meetings. (The ‘standard technique’ seems to be to ‘mask up’ for photos that are meant for the media but shed their masks when the photos are not meant for publication! However, it is just such photos that TheBengaluruLive has sourced for the benefit of its readers.)
Let’s take some recent examples involving Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar (once Chief Minister), DCMs Govind Karjol and Ashwath Narayan, and Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar. It needs pointing out here that Covid rules-enforcing authorities like IAS officers Gaurav Gupta and Rajneesh Goel were present on some of these occasions, but were themselves maskless!
• On Friday, chairing a meeting with a Taiwanese delegation on trade ties, the CM and his foreign guests wore masks for the ‘photo op’, but (with the exception of Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar) removed them soon after. The meeting was also attended by BBMP Administrator Gaurav Gupta, but instead of requesting all the attendees, including the CM and Jagadish Shettar, to keep their masks on, he was himself maskless.
• On Saturday too, the CM was indifferent to the need for a mask while launching a robotic knee surgery system by Sakra International Hospital.
• On Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol, who holds the PWD portfolio, was seen wearing his mask like a necklace (!) while inspecting the government’s 50-storey twin-tower office project at Anand Rao Circle. He was accompanied by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajneesh Goel, and both were seen maskless and even forgot to maintain social distancing.
• On Saturday, Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan participated in a BJP function in Rajarajeshwari Nagar along with local MLA Muniratna. Neither of them wore a mask or observed social distancing.
• On Friday, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar – who by virtue of his medical background and portfolio should be a model example of social distancing and wearing a mask — chaired a Covid task force meeting and later addressed a 20 minute-long presser in the presence of Revenue Minister (and Disaster Management Committee chairman) R Ashoka. Though Ashoka, Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey and ACS (Health) Jawaid Akhtar had masks on till the presser was over, Sudhakar was unabashedly maskless.
Ironically, when a journalist pointed out that the city had seen protests, supported by political parties, in the last couple of days by farmers and transport employees where social distancing and wearing masks were thrown to the winds, Sudhakar ‘requested’ political party leaders to ‘follow the norms’ (Listen to the video link below). But he failed to follow those very norms himself!
It goes without saying that TheBengaluruLive will certainly publish any story of a government authority or IAS officer paying the requisite penalty for a Covid-rule violation and setting a good example to society.