Nitish takes serious note of reported irregularities in COVID-19 testing

·3-min read

Patna, Feb 12 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday said that strong note has been taken of reports in a section of the media about irregularities in the testing of COVID-19 in the state.

Talking to reporters here upon his return from a two- day visit to Delhi, Kumar said he had telephoned the principal secretary of the health department upon reading the reports in newspapers.

He (the principal secretary) told me that the department has swung into action and records of 22 districts have been examined. In one district some anomalies appear to have taken place,' the chief minister said.

'I have called for speedy investigation and fixing of accountability. Those found responsible shall not be spared, he added.

The reports said that data was being fudged in the state, where the government had been initially accused of keeping the COVID-19 testing rate deliberately low so as to conceal the severity of the spread of the contagion.

In the last few months the rate of testing has, however, gone up drastically and Bihar now stands behind only Uttar Pradesh in terms of the number of people who have been tested for the dreaded coronavirus.

Kumar insisted that overall testing of samples in Bihar has been very good and that he has been paying close attention to the records presented before him on a daily basis.

Reams of documents are with me which show that our performance with regard to testing has been commendable. Those who want to cross check are most welcome to come to my place and do so, he said.

Kumar, who is the de facto leader of JD(U), claimed that he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah among others in Delhi but the talks did not touch upon his partys inclusion in the union cabinet.

JD(U) had declined to join the Narendra Modi ministry after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls contending that it did not believe in token representation and should get a number of berths commensurate with its standing in both houses of the Parliament.

Now JD(U) is also expected to raise objections over any attempt to accommodate Chirag Paswan-led LJP in the union council of ministers. LJP has been left with no representation following the death of its founder Ram Vilas Paswan.

LJP's rebellion against JD(U) in the last assembly polls had caused its tally to plummet. Moreover, Chirag Paswan has been relentless in his attacks on the chief minister for some time. He has been accusing Kumar of failure to contain the pandemic, curb corruption and control law and order.

Asked whether the coming West Bengal state elections figured in his talks with the top brass of the saffron party which has emerged as the principal challenger to the ruling Trinamool Congress in that state, Kumar replied I did not discuss Bengal with BJP leaders.

'But the matter is being discussed within our party (JD-U). I have asked the party national president to be in touch with prospective allies and let me know he said.

Kumar had stepped down as the JD(U) chief last month and anointed his key aide and Rajya Sabha member RCP Singh to the post.

The JD(U) has already made it clear that it will contest the assembly polls in West Bengal where it hopes to cash in on Kumars popularity among Bihari migrants.

JD(U) has so far maintained that its alliance with BJP was confined to Bihar and the party has contested assembly elections in most states separately. PTI NAC KK KK KK