NOIDA: The Uttar Pradesh police lodged an FIR against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday for allegedly flouting COVID-19 norms while campaigning for a Congress candidate in Noida for the assembly polls, officials said.
Baghel, along with some supporters, was in Noida for a door-to-door campaign in support of Congress’ Pankhuri Pathak when the alleged violations took place.
The case, lodged under the Epidemic Diseases Act, names ‘others’ also as accused besides the senior Congress leader from Chhattisgarh, even as Pathak said the development was indicative of “fear” due to the “growing support base” of her party.
“The FIR was lodged against Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and others for violating COVID-19 rules as set by the Election Commission when they were in the Sector 113 police station area today (Sunday),” a police spokesperson said.
Indian Penal Code sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (unlawfully or negligently spreading infection of any disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) have also been invoked in the case, the official added.
Pathak, the Congress’ Noida candidate, also alleged police failure in controlling crowd during a “popular CM’s” visit and said they are not afraid of the FIR.
“The fear of the growing support base of the Congress has started reflecting. I and three other people were with the Chhattisgarh CM. Now when a popular chief minister comes, people come to meet him. It is the failure of the police that the crowd was allowed to gather there. The Congress is strongly contesting the elections in Noida. We are not afraid of FIR,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Baghel reached Uttar Pradesh on an “unofficial” tour to campaign for Pathak, who will be taking on the sitting Noida MLA and BJP heavyweight Pankaj Singh in the February 10 polls.
“Pathak is fighting the election on issues of inflation, unemployment and for the issues of the youth, women and farmers,” he told reporters.
Baghel said the Congress will have election results that will shock the rivals and his party’s manifesto would be implemented in UP the way it is being done in Chhattisgarh.
The opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh hit back claiming the Congress must understand that the rule of law existed in UP.
The UP police on Sunday lodged an FIR against Baghel for allegedly violating COVID-19 norms while campaigning for a party candidate in Noida for the Assembly polls.
Baghel is the Congress’ senior observer for the polls in UP.
“The BJP is afraid of the good response Baghel’s election campaign is getting in UP. The FIR reflects Yogi Adityanath’s frustration. Baghel followed norms during the door-to-door campaign and only five people accompanied him as per EC guidelines,” Sushil Anand Shukla, head of the state Congress communication wing said.
“The BJP wants to go to any extent to stop Baghel from campaigning there. The leaders of other parties have now understood the Congress is in a decisive position in UP this time. The BJP, which is left with no option, is using all undemocratic means to halt Baghel’s election campaign,” he said.
Hitting back, state BJP spokesperson Anurag Singhdeo said, The Congress leaders should understand properly there is rule of law in UP and no one can be bigger than the law.
Congressmen openly violating rules and COVID-19 guidelines in Chhattisgarh should inculcate the habit of respecting the law.