Former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan has urged people to pray to their favourite deities for half an hour on Monday morning to contain the coronavirus outbreak, an appeal that was latched on to by the opposition Congress to slam Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the rising number of fatalities.
Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh and the country's cleanest urban area, is now home to 890 COVID-19 patients, with the mortality rate due to the infection that is higher than the national average.
As on Sunday, 49 people have died of the infection in Indore.
The Congress asked 77-year-old Ms Mahajan to question Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on how such a large number of people got infected in Indore, which the latter had called "city of dreams".
In a recent video message, Ms Mahajan said, "Doctors, government officials, police officers and others are fighting the field battle against the coronavirus. We too can do one thing sitting in our house. We can recite Rudra at 10:30 am on April 20 (Monday) and chant Mahamrityunjaya Mantra using a mala (rosary)."
"If you (people) cannot do these two things, then I request that you chant the names of your favourite Gods for half an hour with the remembrance of Ahilya Mata (ruler of the former Holkar dynasty of Indore who was also famous for her devotion for Lord Shiva), in order to free ourselves from the wrath of coronavirus," she added.
Ms Mahajan, who served as Lok Sabha MP from Indore from 1989 till she was denied a ticket in 2019, said she was making the request on behalf of "Ahilyotsva Samiti", a city-based social organisation she heads.
In response to her message, MP Congress spokesperson Neelabh Shukla said, "We have no objection to her appeal to the public to pray. But as a senior BJP leader she must ask CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan how such a large number of people died in Indore due to COVID-19."
"She should ask the CM why so many people are facing problems getting ration during curfew," Mr Shukla said, adding that Ms Mahajan's silence would hurt voters in Indore region, as they expect her to speak up for them during such tough times.