Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will skip the Holi celebrations in view of the coronavirus outbreak even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced not to celebrate Holi and cited incidents of communal violence in the national capital among the reasons.
Later, President Ram Nath Kovind's office also tweeted that the Rashtrapati Bhavan will not hold the traditional Holi gatherings as a precautionary measure as with 'alertness and safeguards, we all can help contain the outbreak of COVID-19'.
Announcing his decision to not celeberate Holi, Modi tweeted, 'experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Hence, this year I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme.'
Following Prime Minister Modi's example, Shah and BJP president J P Nadda also took to Twitter to announce their decision to not celebrate Holi or hold any Holi gatherings in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
'Holi is a very important festival for we Indians but in the wake of Coronavirus, i have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan celebration this year. I also appeal everyone to avoid public gatherings and take a good care of yourself and your family,' Shah tweeted.
In his tweet, Nadda said, 'the world is battling COVID -19 Novel Coronavirus. The countries and medical fraternity are jointly making efforts to contain its spread. Keeping this in mind, this year, I will neither celebrate Holi nor organise Holi Milan. Stay safe, stay healthy.'
Holi is on March 10 this year.
However, Kejriwal and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari cited communal violence in northeast Delhi among the reasons for not celebrating this year.
Responding to a question at a press conference, Kejriwal said, "I am not celebrating Holi due to both reasons (violence and coronavirus). In violence, several people were killed in Delhi...There are families which are in distress due to these riots. I am not celebrating Holi. Our ministers and MLAs will also not celebrate Holi this year."
At least 42 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in communal violence in northeast Delhi, triggered after clashes between supporters of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and anti-CAA protestors.
Expressing concern over what he termed as 'an assault on the social harmony and brotherhood', Tiwari tweeted in view of these incidents, Delhi BJP has decided not to celebrate Holi. His tweet was in Hindi.
Later, a Delhi BJP statement said the party MLAs will also not attend Holi gathering as they 'endorsed the decision of Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Shah and party president Nadda'.
According to BJP sources, Nadda has also written to all state unit presidents, asking them to avoid holding Holi programmes as a precautionary measure.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said in view of the prime minister's decision and outbreak of coronavirus, he is also cancelling the Holi programme that was scheduled to be held at Miller School in Patna on March 7.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath too said that he will not take part in 'Holi milan' (gathering) later this month in 'public interest' and appealed to all the people of the state to refrain from attending social functions.
'I will also stay away from holy festivities of Holi in wider public interest. Stay safe, stay healthy,' he tweeted in Hindi.
He further tweeted that, 'the coronavirus is infectious, therefore, protection is more important than treatment'.
'It is my appeal to all the people of the state to refrain from attending social functions and take good care of themselves and their families with full responsibility.'
However, all BJP leaders and Union ministers said the country was well prepared, and taking precautionary steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus.