New Delhi, Sep 24: When the entire country has been trying to follow basic norms to prevent the spread on COVID-19, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister and BJP leader Narottam Mishra seems to have thrown caution to the window.
Mishra on Wednesday caused a stir saying he doesn't wear a face mask in any programme.
However, as Congress attacked him, the minister later tempered his remarks, saying he cannot continue to wear a face mask for a long time due to a medical condition.
"I don't wear a mask in any programmes. 'Isme kya hota hai?' (so what)," the home minister told reporters when they asked him why he was not wearing a mask at a function here.
Mishra was seen without a mask at a programme in Indore which was organised for distribution of assistance under the state government's Sambal Yojana, which provides social security cover to the poor and the SC and ST communities.
Notably, Tulsiram Silawat and other BJP leaders, who also participated in the event, were seen wearing masks.
The state Congress launched a pointed attack, asking are COVID-19 norms meant only for the common people.
"Is there anyone who has the courage to take action against him (Mr Mishra). Are rules only for common people?" Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesman Narendra Saluja tweeted.
After coming under sharp criticism, the home minister tweaked his remarks and said, "I normally wear a mask but I can't sport it for a long time, as I am suffering from Polypus and if I wear a mask it leads to suffocation".
However, after getting flake the minister apologised later saying "My statement over wearing a mask appears to be a violation of law. It wasn't in line with sentiment of the PM. I accept my mistake and express regret. I'll wear mask. I also appeal to everyone to wear mask & observe social distancing."
Indore is among the worst-hit districts in Madhya Pradesh which has reported 20,834 COVID-19 cases and 516 fatalities so far.