After a positive test of five leaders, the Congress today canceled its widely criticized march or 10-day march to Karnataka. According to sources, the decision was announced by the Karnataka leaders of the party following a call from Rahul Gandhi.
On the fifth day of the controversial march, an FIR was lodged against more than 60 Congress leaders for denying the Covid rule in a growing case in the state.
“We have succeeded in the last five days. We were supposed to end the march in Bangalore. We have to postpone it for the time being due to the third wave,” former chief minister Siddaramaiah told reporters.
He justified continuing the campaign despite the Omicron-powered Covid wave, saying it was planned about two months ago.
Earlier today, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bomai wrote a letter to Siddaramaiah and state Congress chief DK Shivakumar urging them to stop organized marches to push for the Mekedatu Dam project on the Kaberi River.
Mr Bomai assured in his letter that the project was on track.
The horrific scene of a procession of Congress workers from Karnataka erupted in a horrific scene, which jumped 44 per cent in the Kovid case last evening with more than 21,000 cases.
Leading the march are two senior leaders, Birappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharg, who tested positive. During the walk they shared a stage with Mr. Shivakumar and Mr. Siddaramaiah.
Amid strong condemnation of the “super-spreader” march, Mr Shivakumar held a meeting with local Congress leaders this morning.
“Five days after we started this march, no one was admitted to the ICU. We are sacrificing our march for the welfare of our citizens,” Mr Shivkumar said. “We will continue this journey from where we ended up. It is only temporary. We respect the order of the high court and the welfare of the people,” he said.
The Congress had started a march to push the BJP government in the state over the Mekedatu project near the Tamil Nadu border. Tamil Nadu court has challenged plans to build a dam to save water during the Karnataka floods and to bring water to Bangalore, about 200 km away.
The Congress had planned to end the 139 km-march in Bangalore, but the civic authorities prevented him from entering the city.
Yesterday, a third FIR was lodged against 64 party leaders, including Mr Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, for violating the Kovid restrictions by marching through a crowd of about 14km, mostly without masks or distance.
On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court questioned the BJP government in the state as to why they had allowed the Congress to march and had not taken any steps to stop it.
The court also asked the Karnataka Congress unit whether it had sought permission for the march and whether the party had complied with the Kovid rules.
Both the state government and the Congress will have to respond by Friday.