A reckless singer's trail: How Kanika Kapoor threw India's political elite into quarantine
New Delhi, March 21 (IANS): Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, who shot to fame with her Baby Doll performance, has now brought nearly the nation to its knees.
The singer, who recently returned from the UK and has been tested positive for the novel coronavirus, has thrown the political elite of the country into quarantine after she attended multiple bashes in Lucknow.
The epicentre of her reckless act turns out to be the capital of Uttar Pradesh - India's most populous state and New Delhi - the national capital itself.
How did it all start?
Former BSP MP Akbar Ahmed Dumpy threw a birthday party on March 14 which was attended by many socialites and royals.
On the list were Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh, Congress leader Jitin Prasada, Rajasthan's former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia and her MP son Dushyant Singh among others. But among the others was Kanika Kapoor.
The party was one among the three hosted by the father-in-law of former Union minister Jitin Prasada which high profile dignitaries attended.
The singer stayed at Shalimar Gallante in Mahanagar in Lucknow and now another person from the same building has been found positive, said sources. The singer had also been interacting with her friends in the high-rise building where her parents stay in Mahanagar area.
She also paid a visit to her uncle's family in Kanpur.
Next, the Health Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a state with more than 20 crore people, went to the cabinet meeting where he met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputies - Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Ironically, the huddle was meant to discuss how to contain the spread of the virus which has been deemed a "pandemic" by WHO. Singh also met his other cabinet colleagues and later a press conference was also held.
He even met top bureaucrats including the Health Department officials.
Meanwhile, Kanika Kapoor continued to mingle with neighbours and admirers across the length and breadth of Lucknow, even obliging for selfie requests.
Meanwhile, Dushyant Singh flew back to the national capital and headed straight to the Parliament. He met leaders of all hues.
Former Union Minister Anupriya Patel was one of them. She took to Twitter to announce: "I met Dushyant Singh at an event yesterday. As a precautionary measure, I have placed myself under self-isolation. I will follow the government's directions on this."
Singh was also spotted chatting with Union Minister Pralhad Patel. He also attended a standing committee of Transport, Tourism and Culture where he met Trinamool Congress member Derek O' Brien among many.
The Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha member said it is a very serious matter if Singh is under isolation as he was sitting near to him two days ago.
In turn, Rajya Sabha AAP MP Sanjay Singh on Friday announced he will go in for self-quarantine as he had been meeting O'Brien.
Media persons were also scared as many of them from different organisations had spoken to Singh when he was present in Parliament this week - after attending the party where Kapoor was present.
In the ensuing action, Uttar Pradesh's Yogi Adityanath government has directed Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash to submit a report within 24 hours on the parties attended by Bollywood singer in the state capital.
The mayhem continues
But that doesn't seem to have worked as the mayhem continued. The Taj Hotel where Kanika Kapoor attended a party, has been closed till further orders, according to the orders issued by the District Magistrate on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Adityanath has ordered the sanitisation of Lucknow, Noida and Kanpur, places where Kanika Kapoor and those who met her visited. The UP Health Minister, who has now self-quarantined himself, had visited Noida recently.
What's more? The Chief Minister, after talking to the Health Minister, has also ordered the closure of all malls and restaurants in the state.
"Sanitisation will be a massive exercise in which possible suspects will be tracked and checked. We do not want any further spurt in the number of Corona patients. Kanika Kapoor has interacted with an unimaginably large number of people and we cannot take chances," said a medical official.
While Dushyant Singh's test report has come negative, according to BJP sources, the government is wary about the health hazard, nevertheless.
It all started with one non-disclosure by the singer which has now put two biggest cities of India on edge.
The developing story
After Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor tested coronavirus positive, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh have gone into self-isolation after coming in contact with her, but the news has also caused concern among 96 MPs.
These 96 MPs from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were present at a breakfast meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan two days ago, which Dushyant Singh also attended. Now, whoever came into contact with Dushyant Singh has started going into self-isolation. Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel was the first to do this.
On March 18, President Ram Nath Kovind invited 96 MPs from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to breakfast. Dushyant Singh, an MP from Jhalawar-Baran, also came to the breakfast and interacted with the other MPs. Just two days before this, on March 16, Dushyant Singh had returned from Lucknow after attending Kanika Kapoor's party.
As soon as the news of Kanika Kapoor testing coronavirus positive came on Friday, Vasundhara Raje and Dushyant Singh announced going into self-isolation. But as the news spread, the other MPs who had attended the breakfast got scared. Former Union Minister and Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel, who was present at the President's breakfast, has also announced going into self-isolation.
Union Minister Rajnath Singh, General VK Singh, Gajendra Shekhawat, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Kailash Chaudhary, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Vijay Goyal, Om Mathur, Ravikishan, Hema Malini, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Sakshi Maharaj had attended the breakfast meeting, among others. Sources said the other MPs who were present there are also preparing to undergo a coronavirus test and go into self-isolation.
Kanika Kapoor, who came from London to Lucknow on March 15, organised a high-profile party in Gallant apartment on the same day in which senior officials were also present along with many political leaders. Kanika Kapoor also hosted parties at two other places including a five-star hotel in Lucknow. She also went to a relative's house in Kanpur.
After Kanika Kapoor tested coronavirus positive, Vasundhara Raje tweeted: "A few days ago I went to a dinner in Lucknow with Dushyant and his in-laws. Kanika Kapoor, who is found to be corona infected, was also involved in that dinner. I was present as a guest. As a precaution, I and Dushyant are in self-isolation and we are following all the necessary instructions".
Dushyant was involved in meetings in Parliament after returning from Lucknow on March 15 and took part in Lok Sabha proceedings on March 16. He raised issues related to tourism that day. On March 18, the plight of the farmers of Jhalawar parliamentary constituency was raised in the Lok Sabha. Dushyant Singh also participated in the meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport Tourism and Culture.
Thus, wherever Dushyant Singh went, all the MPs who came into contact with him have now become worried about their health. Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien has also said that he will go into self-isolation.
Slammed by netizens
Earlier, Kanika Kapoor was slammed by netizens for not going into self-quarantine after returning to India from London a few days ago.
Users on social media users called her "irresponsible" and "uneducated" when they got to know that she has reportedly attended several high-profile parties and events after arriving in the country.
"Kanika Kapoor's episode just shows that stardom and money and privilege doesn't guarantee minimum common sense. Their irresponsible behaviour can upset the fight against #coronavirus which till date has been reasonably contained in India," a user tweeted.
Another one even asked police to arrest the Baby Doll singer. "Horrible Behavior!!! She should be arrested," the user added.
Condemning her negligence, a user called her "uneducated". On Friday morning, Kanika had taken to Instagram to announce that she has been infected with the virus.
"Hello everyone, For the past 4 days I have had signs of flu, I got myself tested and it came positive for Covid-19. My family and I are in complete quarantine now and following medical advice on how to move forward. Contact mapping of people I have been in touch with is underway as well.
"I was scanned at the airport as per normal procedure 10 days ago when I came back home, the symptoms have developed only 4 days ago. At this stage I would like to urge you all to practice self isolation and get tested if you have the signs.
I am feeling ok, like a normal flu and a mild fever, however we need to be sensible citizens at this time and think of all around us. We can get through this without panic only if we listen to the experts and our local, state and central government directives," Kanika wrote.