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Rival yatras target Gujarat’s hinterlands

While the Congress seeks justice for COVID victims, BJP ministers want the people’s blessings

Though Assembly elections in Gujarat are more than a year away, political parties have begun outreach campaigns, each with a series of yatras across the State.

Seeking justice or nayay for the families of those who died of COVID-19 infection in Gujarat, the State Congress unit launched a yatra to meet all bereaved families. The opposition party has also demanded ₹4 lakh compensation from the BJP-ruled State government for COVID victims since the outbreak in March 2020.

Officially, 10,078 people have died of the viral infection as per the data of the State Health Department. However, estimates based on data from local authorities, crematoriums and other sources say the actual toll could be upto a dozen times higher.

As the pandemic has subsided now, the Congress is trying to reach out to the families of the victims. By raising the demand for compensation for the families, the opposition party has struck an emotional chord and also hopes to expose the failures of the BJP government during the pandemic.

“We will meet each family which has lost its near and dear ones in the pandemic. This is to extend more moral and emotional support to them. We are demanding compensation of ₹4 lakh to each of the families,” said Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda.

He said other demands include reimbursement of COVID-19 treatment bills incurred by patients at private hospitals, a judicial inquiry into the administration’s failure in tackling the outbreak, as well as jobs for children of those government employees who died due to the virus.

The Congress outreach exercise will cover all districts over two months and party leaders and workers are expected to visit more than 10,000 villages apart from more urban areas.

Ministers’ yatra

Meanwhile, newly inducted BJP Union ministers from Gujarat have embarked on a Jan Ashirvad Yatra. Three Union ministers — Devusinh Chauhan, Darshana Jardosh and Mahendra Munjapara — have launched the yatra as part of the BJP’s national outreach programme.

The state BJP had announced that five newly-inducted Union ministers from Gujarat, including Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, will tour various parts of their home State from August 16 to 20.

Another political force trying to gain a foothold in Gujarat, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also taking out yatras in villages to expose the failures of the BJP government. AAP leaders Isudan Gadhavi and Gopal Italia have been visiting villages, holding meetings and rallies in the State since mid-July.

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