Rajat Sharma

Karnataka govt must take action against Devegowda’s family for violating norms

AKB2610On the 25th day of nationwide lockdown, people in India sitting in their homes watched visuals of former Prime Minister H. D. Devegowda and former Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, along with family members throwing social distancing norms to the wind at the wedding of the former CM’s son Nikhil at Ramnagara near Bengaluru.

Leaders, who should have led by example, were flouting the very norms which they had promised to uphold. No action was taken by the state government, because this wedding was being hosted by a powerful former PM and a former chief minister.

Is the lockdown meant only for the middle class and the poor? Why didn’t Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa prevent this gathering? Was it because it was a wedding in a VVIP family? To keep it “a private affair”, the media was kept at a distance of 20 kilometres from the wedding venue.

What will people feel when they watch a former PM, a former CM, along with their spouses, failing to observe social distancing at the ‘mangalsutra’ ceremony ? I do not know whether Chief Minister Yeddyurappa attended the wedding or not, but there were some pictures circulating on social media showing him with the couple. These could be pictures from the engagement ceremony that was held on February 11, when the lockdown was not in force.

Kumaraswamy had sought government’s permission for 42 vehicles and 110 guests at the wedding, but the administration issued passes for only 40 guests. My information is that food was arranged for 58 vehicle drivers, and there were nearly 200 guests who attended the wedding.

Devegowda and Kumaraswamy are top leaders of Janata Dal(S). The party has to clarify its position, but the Congress will also have to clarify, because Nikhil wed the granddaughter of a former Congress minister M. Krishnappa.

When the Devegowda family was asked why they did not follow norms, Kumaraswamy released an aerial footage to claim that only 40 people attended the wedding.

Kumaraswamy in a series of tweets said: ” …..in this tough time we followed the guidelines issued by the government. We maintained systematic social distance and took enough precaution measures in the marriage …..Once the present situation changes, once we come out of this present condition and when life becomes normal, we and you all will sit together and we will do feast together….”

The Karnataka government had already said that its officials would keep a watch on the wedding and action would be taken if lockdown and social distancing norms are violated.

Normally I do not comment on personal or family matters, particularly relating to weddings or any social event. Even if there are minor violations, it is not considered proper to comment. But in view of the present Coronavirus pandemic and the crisis that the entire nation is facing, I cannot refrain from commenting.

Lakhs of Indians postponed their weddings because of the lockdown. Millions of people are locked inside their houses for the last 25 days. Lakhs of daily wagers and migrant workers are unable to return to their homes because of lockdown. They have no source of livelihood. Millions of poor people and destitutes are surviving on ration and meals given by the governments.

Devegowda and his son Kumaraswamy should have led by example in this hour of crisis. Heavens would not have fallen if the wedding was postponed by a few months. I know, Devegowda’s family believes in astrology and ‘tantra’. It may be their personal choice and I have nothing to say about it. But, we cannot allow the family to put hundreds of people and their contacts at risk because of their deep faith in astrology. The Karnataka government must take action.

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