The Shiv Sena on Thursday hit out at the BJP for its planned protest against the Maharashtra government, saying the opposition party was trying to politicise the coronavirus pandemic.
The BJP has appealed for a state-wide protest on Friday against the Sena-NCP-Congress government, alleging that it has failed to contain the pandemic in Maharashtra.
The Sena said on Twitter that Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis should give suggestions about how to carry out the fight against the virus.
The protest will gather people and will be counterproductive, the former BJP ally said. "We shouldn't allow a repeat of what happened in Gujarat and put strain on the state police," the Sena said.
Referring to Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil's statement to his party workers about how to carry out the protest, the Sena said "we condemn this".
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeals to people to unitedly fight corona and the state BJP is politicizing the crisis," it said.
Senior Sena leader and state industries minister Subhash Desai said the BJP should first advise its chief minister in Gujarat about how he should handle frequent protests by migrants who are stranded in Surat and elsewhere.
"The BJP leaders should advise its Gujarat CM on how to pacify those people," he said. As of Thursday evening, Maharashtra had recorded over 41,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,400 deaths.
"The state government and people here are helping each other to contain the outbreak of coronavirus. The BJP should speak to people and offer support instead of doing fear-mongering," Desai said.
"The BJP leadership is completely misguided...they should not forget that next state elections are four and a half years away," he added.
State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said while healthcare workers, police and the government were fighting "an enemy called COVID-19", the BJP was fighting the government.
"It is unfortunate that in the time of crisis, BJP is seeking to play a political battle,"he said.
Earlier, Fadnavis tweeted that till May 18, the total number of tests done nationally was 23,02,792 and positive cases were 96,169.
"While in Maharashtra, total tests were 2,82,000 and positive cases 35,058. In Mumbai, total tests were 1,62,000 and positive cases 21,335.
"The ratio of positive cases in Maharashtra is 3 times that of national average andin Mumbai it is even more. This shows that the spread is much more in Maharashtra," he said.
"If we eliminate repetitive tests of a single person... Mumbais positivity rate stands at around 22 percent. In such a scenario more focus should be on testing in Mumbai. But despite having facility of 10,000 tests per day, only 4000 to 4500 tests are being done," the former chief minister claimed.