A police complaint has been filed against a key Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician in the Indian state of West Bengal over his alleged COVID hug remark for state chief Mamata Banerjee.
Anupam Hazra, the BJP national secretary, threatened on Sunday to give a hug to state chief Banerjee if he was infected with COVID-19 to make her realise the insensitive treatment being meted out to those dying of the deadly virus during their last rites.
In cases of COVID-related deaths, local civic authorities usually perform their last rites.
"The victims of COVID-19 virus were treated in an inhuman manner. The bodies were burnt with kerosene. Even dogs and cats are not treated like this. If I get COVID, I'll go and hug her (Banerjee). She will understand the pain of those who have suffered the disease and have lost their near and dear ones during the pandemic", Hazra reportedly stated on Sunday.
The federally governing BJP is the main opposition party in poll-bound West Bengal.
According to the police, the complaint was filed by the state’s governing party Trinamool Congress (TMC) over making derogatory remarks against a woman and state chief.
As per the complaint, TMC is seeking action against Hazra for maligning a public figure, who is a woman, as it is in violation of the constitution and hurt the sentiments of the complainants (the party members).
Hazra, a former TMC parliamentarian who joined the state’s opposition BJP in 2019, said the state chief has also made several controversial remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"If my comments are demeaning then Mamata Banerjee too had made several such comments against Prime Minister Modi. Secondly, if one FIR (police complaint) has been filed against me, at least 10 FIRs should be lodged against TMC leaders", Hazra told Indian news agency the Press Trust of India.
Saugato Roy, a senior TMC leader condemned the remarks, saying such comments or statements reflect the mind-set of the BJP. He also urged the police to take immediate action against Hazra.
According to government data, West Bengal has reported over 247,400 COVID-19 cases and more than 4,780 people have died due to the virus.