Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the only minister in the five-day-old BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, stepped out of his office on Saturday to see how the state capital was responding to the lockdown to arrest the coronavirus pandemic.
Travelling alone in his vehicle and wearing a mask, the 61-year-old often got down to thank, from a distance, those engaged in cleaning, providing security and supplying essentials —an exercise criticised by Opposition Congress as disregard for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to stay at home, and one that endangers the health of his family, security personnel and staff.
There is no official word yet on when Chouhan will expand his Cabinet amid speculation that he will do it only after the lockdown ends. Holding meetings with bureaucrats and issuing video appeals, Chouhan has had a busy schedule. The lockdown was announced less than 24 hours after he was administered oath of office and secrecy on March 23.
He was scheduled to hold a “Facebook Live” chat with the people, especially farmers who are worried by untimely rains and restrictions on movements that have made harvesting difficult and put a question mark on procurement that was to begin from April 1. But with many engagements on Saturday, he postponed it by a day.
In between, he had to respond to a fake social media post which warned people that they will be shot if they stepped out of their homes after April 1. A case was registered by the police’s cyber cell against the perpetrator.
MP has so far reported 34 confirmed coronavirus cases, nearly half of them in Indore, and two deaths. The collector and the DIG of Indore were transferred on Saturday and officers who had worked in the state’s commercial capital were posted there.
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