Assam minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma hit back Sunday morning after his comment - there is "no Covid in Assam... (so) there is no need to wear a face mask" - led to a row."Those who are making fun on my statement on masks must come to Assam and see how we have contained COVID-19, compared to states like Delhi, Kerala and Maharashtra... along with impressive recovery of economy," he tweeted.
"We will celebrate Bihu also with the same enthusiasm this year," he added.
On Saturday Mr Sarma, who is the state health minister, had said: "There is no Covid in Assam... there is no need to wear a face mask now in Assam... If there is a need I will inform the people..."
The remark - made to a reporter from online news website The Lallantop - came on a day India recorded nearly 90,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours - the most in a day since mid-September.
Assam's share in that spike is minimal - 68 new cases and no deaths - but the alarming rate at which the virus is spreading elsewhere - the positivity rate has shot up from 2.2 per cent four weeks ago to 7.1 per cent today - and the potential of more infectious strains has worried the centre enough for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead a high-level meeting this morning.
Among those to hit back at Mr Sarma, who received his first Covid vaccine dose early last month, was the Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi.
"We have the first state in the country... or rather the world... whose Health Minister has declared it Covid-free and has advised no masks (or) Covid protocols to be followed... We must all celebrate the feat and get WHO (World Health Organization) to endorse it!" she tweeted..