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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Madhya Pradesh: Hours after casting vote, MLA tests positive for Covid-19

Saklecha became the second legislator from Madhya Pradesh to contract the infection after Congress MLA Kunal Chaudhary, who voted last on Friday wearing a PPE suit.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Updated: June 21, 2020 1:31:53 am
madhya pradesh rajya sabha voting, mp mla tests positive for coronavirus, covid 19 mp mla rajya sabha, At least five BJP MLAs, who interacted with the Javad MLA over last couple of days, and their drivers and gunmen were among 15 people who got themselves tested on Saturday at J P Hospital in Bhopal. (Representational image)

Hours after he cast his vote in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly premises during the Rajya Sabha election, BJP MLA Omprakash Saklecha tested positive for Covid-19 late on Friday night.

The 62-year-old legislator from Javad in Neemuch district had also attended the BJP legislature party meeting at its headquarters on Thursday and interacted with senior local and national leaders over the last three days.

While some BJP MLAs volunteered to get themselves tested on Saturday, the Assembly Secretariat, after going through CCTV footage, informed a few members who stood in the voting queue immediately near Saklecha to get tested.

Saklecha became the second legislator from the state to contract the disease after Congress MLA Kunal Chaudhary, who cast his vote wearing a PPE suit.

Saklecha had come to Bhopal on June 16, three days before voting. He told The Indian Express that he had shifted to his farmhouse from his residence in Javad town after a neighbour tested positive three weeks ago.

The legislator said his wife had a fever, but because both came from a hotspot, they got tested. Both tested positive. He claimed they gave their samples to a private laboratory around 3.30 pm on Friday and got their results around 10.30 pm.

“Why would I want to endanger the lives of others by hiding the infection? I am asymptomatic even today,” he said in response to Congress’s allegation that he had sent his samples a couple of days ago and chose not to declare the result.

The MLA and his wife are being treated at a dedicated Covid Hospital in Bhopal. Assembly Principal Secretary A P Singh, as instructed by the health department, said due precautions had been taken for voting. Besides regularly sanitising the premises and screening of legislators, the staff that handed ballot papers had worn full protective kits. The MLAs had been asked to give a declaration about their Covid-free status before entering the premises. All 206 MLAs, including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former CM Kamal Nath, cast their vote.

Mandsaur MLA Yashpal Sisodiya was among the BJP MLAs who gave their samples, along with their drivers and gunmen, on Friday. Saklecha said he and his wife will remain in quarantine till test results arrive.

Saklecha claimed he had taken precautions like wearing masks and not shaking hands. He said even in the legislature party meeting, BJP MLAs sat on alternate chairs. However, a photograph released by the BJP on June 18 belied the claim. While most others were wearing masks, he did not wear one and was flanked by two members who didn’t maintain the alternate-chair distance.

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