Trump event to blame for over 800 COVID-19 deaths in Guj: Cong

Ahmedabad, May 25 (PTI) The Gujarat Congress on Monday alleged that the 'Namaste Trump' event organised by the BJP government on February 24 here was responsible for the death of over 800 persons due to coronavirus in the state, drawing a sharp rebuttal from the ruling party.

State Congress president Amit Chavda said his party will soon file a petition in the Gujarat High Court, seeking an independent probe through a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in organisation of the mega event.

However, the state BJP dismissed the allegations, claiming the opposition party was now trying to counter media reports which had 'revealed how coronavirus spread after Tablighi Jamaat's Delhi Markaz event' (held in mid March).

On February 24, visiting US President Donald Trump along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in a road show in Ahmedabad which was attended by thousands of people.

After the road show, the two leaders addressed a gathering of over one lakh people at the sprawling Motera cricket stadium, run by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA).

The mega event was christened 'Namaste Trump'.

Gujarat reported its first coronavirus cases on March 20, when samples of a man from Rajkot and a woman from Surat tested positive for the disease.

As on May 25, the death toll in Gujarat due to the viral infection stood at 888, while the case tally was 14,468.

A majority of the cases and fatalities have been reported from Ahmedabad district.

'Though the World Health Organisation had issued a warning about coronavirus in January itself, the state's BJP government went ahead in organising the Namaste Trump event which has resulted in the death of over 800 persons due to the pandemic,' alleged Chavda.

He claimed that even the state Health Department had issued a notification on January 22 about the pandemic and asked its district offices to put in place precautionary measures to fight coronavirus.

'Why the government could not procure PPE kits and ventilators when they knew about the risk well in advance? It shows their criminal negligence.

'We will soon file a petition in the High Court, seeking an inquiry as we firmly believe that the Trump event was the biggest culprit in spreading coronavirus in the state,' said Chavda.

The BJP hit back at the Congress, calling its allegations baseless, and asked the opposition party to refrain from indulging in politics in these difficult times.

'The people of Gujarat know that there is no connection between the 'Namaste Trump' event and the coronavirus spread. The media, citing figures, had showed how and where coronavirus spread after Tablighi Jamaat's Delhi event,' said Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya.

'Now, to counter the media and the BJP, opposition Congress is making baseless allegations about the Trump event,' said Pandya. PTI PJT PD RSY RSY