TMC’s Derek O’Brien refers to Modi’s Kumbh comment

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Kolkata: Rajya Sabha MP and senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien on Sunday invoked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment to conduct a ‘symbolic’ Kumbh Mela amid rising COVID-19 infections.

Adding that TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banarjee will not campaign in Kolkata anymore for the ongoing elections, O’Brien said that there will be “only one ‘symbolic’ meeting on the last day of campaigning in the city on April 26.”

Earlier on Saturday, Narendra Modi appealed to the to observe Kumbh Mela “symbolic” to strengthen the fight against the deadly virus. His appeal came after the annual event has sparked nationwide concern amid the alarming second wave of COVID-19 as lakhs of devotees gathered along the banks of the Ganga in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar.

Meanwhile, speaking to a TV channel, Mamata Banerjee said she would shorten her speeches at campaigns in different parts of the state to around 20 minutes or so from the usual time of 50 minutes to one hour so that the people don’t have to stay long at the meetings.

“Yes, we have decided to hold small meetings, street corner-type ones, in the city in the campaigning for the next three phases. We will not hold any big gatherings anymore. Also, my speeches in the meetings addressed by me will be much shorter,” she said.

The COVID-19 caseload of West Bengal, where an eight-phase assembly election is underway, soared to 6,59,927 as the state registered its highest single-day spike of 8,419 fresh infections on Sunday, a health bulletin said.

Twenty-eight fresh fatalities pushed the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 10,568, it said. Kolkata reported the highest number of new cases at 2,197.

(With agency inputs)