Maha Cong seeks apology from BJP, Vardhan on COVID-19 comments

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Mumbai, Apr 8 (PTI) The Congress on Thursday attacked the BJP and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan over their stinging criticism of Maharashtra's COVID-19 management and handling of the vaccination drive, accusing them of 'insulting' the state and demanded an apology.

State Congress chief Nana Patole, addressing a press conference here, dubbed Vardhan was the 'most incompetent health minister in the countrys history'.

The Congress is part of the Shiv Sena-led MVA government in the state.

On Wednesday, Vardhan had said 'lackadaisical' attitude of the Maharashtra government has 'singularly bogged down' the entire country's efforts to fight the virus.

'Yesterday, he became very active and criticised Maharashtra in a very insensitive manner and inappropriate language. He has insulted the 13-crore people of the state,' Patole said.

Patole said the minister and his party, the BJP, should apologise to the people of Maharashtra.

He said BJP leaders in the state should 'wake up' the Centre from its slumber instead of continuing their 'anti- Maharashtra rant'.

Maharashtra BJP leaders should seek more vaccines, Remdesivir injections, medical oxygen supply and other materials to help fight COVID-19 in the state, the worst-hit by the pandemic in the country, the MPCC president said.

He said last year the Centre declared coronavirus as a national calamity and the entire responsibility of tackling the pandemic was with the Union government.

But unfortunately, the Centre and Union minister Harsh Vardhan were making baseless allegations against Maharashtra, he said.

Patole said the central governments job was to take cognisance of the second coronavirus wave and make planning accordingly to tackle it.

'But the Centre has provided vaccines only to 8 crore population and sent vaccine doses free of cost to other countries, including 'enemy country Pakistan,' he said.

'The MVA government is tackling the an unprecedented crisis with courage and the Congress has decided to help out,' he said.

'Helplines will be set up in all district Congress offices,with the main control room in Mumbai, where party workers will ensure that COVID-19 patients get all the required help,' Patole said.

The party will also organise blood donation camps from April 14, the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, he said.

Patole said the six working presidents of the state Congress willregularly review the COVID-19 situation in all the six divisions of Maharashtra.

Among them are Shivajirao Moghe (Marathwada), Chandrakant Handore (Nagpur), Basavraj Patil (Western Maharashtra), Praniti Shinde (North Maharashtra) and Kunal Patil (Amravati division).

All guardian ministers and co-ordination ministers of the Congress as well as relief and rehabilitation minister Vijay Wadettiwar and medical education minister Amit Deshmukh will assist them in their task, he said.

Meanwhile, state PWD minister Ashok Chavan, talking to reporters separately, said the BJP has been 'infected with the disease of insulting Maharashtra'.

'If they dont bring this disease under control, the people of Maharashtra will treat it effectively,' said Chavan, a senior Congress leader.

Chavan hit out at Vardhan for stating that the Maharashtra government had 'singularly bogged down' the entire countrys efforts to fight the virus.

'This comment is defamatory, insulting and hurts the pride of the Marathi people. The language went against established protocols and not based on facts,' Chavan said.