Members of AAP, BJP spar in Assembly over credit for COVID management in Delhi

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New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) Seeking credit for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Delhi, members of the ruling AAP and opposition BJP crossed swords in the Assembly on Wednesday.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the pandemic could not have been controlled by a single government and lauded doctors and scientists for treating patients and developing vaccines against the virus.

'It was truly a difficult time for all, during which the citizens, various organisations, the prime minister, the home minister and the Union government collaborated on a high scale. The epidemic could not have been controlled by a single government or individual,' he said.

However, the most important work was done by the doctors and other frontline workers, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo pointed out.

'We politicians can commend ourselves as much as we want, but neither the prime minister nor Kejriwal went to the hospitals to treat the patients. It was done by the doctors,' he said.

Speaking before the chief Minister, Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said it was 'sad and unfortunate' that the Delhi government failed to appreciate the contribution of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in the LG's address to the House.

'At a time when the number of COVID-19 cases was rising in Delhi, the central government stepped in and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, provided relief to the people of the city by arranging thousands of beds for the patients, airlifting doctors and paramedics and providing other equipment to fight the virus,' he said.

The condition of the hospitals run by the Delhi government was such that the deputy chief minister and the health minister had to go to private hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19, Bidhuri added.

In a statement later, he said the Assembly should pass a resolution thanking the prime minister as well as the doctors and scientists.

Starting the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the LG's address, minister Gopal Rai said the coronavirus arrived in the country through passengers from abroad, and appreciated the chief minister and the health minister for the arrangements to deal with the situation.

BJP MLA Anil Bajpayi claimed that the Centre provided foodgrains to the Delhi government for distribution among people during the pandemic, while alleging that the AAP government provided 'rotten' foodgrains to the people. He also asked how many times the chief minister visited hospitals during the pandemic.

Replying to Bajpayi, AAP legislator Abdul Rahman said the BJP MLAs should say why the Centre provided rotten foodgrains for distribution in Delhi.

Many lawmakers who had contracted the virus, including AAP's Vishesh Ravi, Rajesh Rishi and BJP's Mohan Singh Bisht, lauded the Delhi government's efforts to tackle the pandemic.

'The chief minister prudently coordinated with the Centre to manage the pandemic. We should also acknowledge the Centre's role in dealing with the virus. Home Minister Amit Shah visited hospitals in Delhi without caring for his own self,' Bisht said.

The AAP MLAs praised Kejriwal and Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, saying the model of COVID-19 management adopted by the city government is being talked about the world over.

'Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did what others could not do to tackle the coronavirus, while those from the BJP were busy beating thali (utensils) and lighting diya (earthen lamps),' AAP MLA Raj Kumari Dhillon said.

Another AAP legislator Ajay Dutt said the Kejriwal government's efforts during the pandemic became a model of coronavirus management in the country.

AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bhardwaj said no doctor was airlifted to Delhi as claimed by Bidhuri.

'It was promised that doctors will be airlifted in six hours, but that did not happen even in 48 hours. Also, claims of setting up ICUs in train coaches were nothing but a PR exercise,' he said.

Bhardwaj also appealed to the speaker for efforts to raise the salaries of the MLAs, so that they can meet the necessary expenses without any difficulty.

Before the Motion of Thanks to the LG's address, several MLAs raised issues related to their constituencies under Rule 280 for special mentions. PTI VIT RC