Acting upon a public interest litigation, the Kerala High Court on Friday banned conduct of all events and functions in Kasaragod which have more than 50 persons attending. The high court directive is a setback for ruling CPI(M), which began its Kasaragod district conference with 200-odd delegates and scores of volunteers.
The conduct of the district conference in Kasaragod and Thrissur, where test positivity rate is 34 percent and 36 per cent, respectively, had come under fire from the Opposition and civil society as Kerala is seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent days.
To facilitate the conduct of the party district conferences, which began on Friday, the government had allegedly tweaked the restrictions, with no curbs on gatherings in these districts. In Kasaragod district, the collector on Thursday had issued an order banning all public functions, but the administration was forced to withdraw the order, allegedly under duress from CPI(M), as the party’s district conference was slated to begin on Friday.
On Thursday, the state government had changed the norms for imposing Covid restrictions, putting all districts into three categories, based on the caseload in hospitals in each district. In the districts of Thrissur and Kasaragod, no restrictions on crowds were imposed even as only 50 persons were allowed in events in most other districts.
Opposition Congress charged that the CPI(M)-led government tweaked new Covid-19 restrictions to facilitate the conduct of the party’s district conferences.
Opposition leader V D Satheesan said, “The districts of Thrissur and Kasaragod, where test positivity rate is 34 percent and 36 per cent, respectively, no restriction has been imposed to facilitate the party conferences in these districts. Till the other day, Kerala had restrictions based on the test positivity rate. This norm was changed, and no curbs were imposed in these two districts to help the CPI(M).”
Satheesan pointed out that CPI(M) conducted a district conference in Thiruvananthapuram, flouting all protocols, contributing to extreme infection in that district. Ministers, legislators and several other party workers who attended the conference, got infected. It is ludicrous that the government is twisting the protocol and restrictions on crowds for party conferences, he said.
CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, however, refuted the allegation saying that party would never decide in favour of spreading the virus.