TMC MP Derek O'Brien Tuesday hit out at Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for not congratulating the state governments and health workers on their fight against coronavirus or condoling the demises of those who were at the forefront of the battle.
Speaking to the media near Parliament, he said the health minister read out a 12-page statement in Rajya Sabha during which he used the word congratulate once. Tomorrow morning we will get a chance to ask clarifications. The Health minister used it once. It was a 12-page statement. He used the word congratulate once. Who did he congratulate? The Prime Minister. No, why didn't the health minister congratulate the doctors, the healthcare workers, the nurses, the police, the ward boys, the sweepers, he said.
So many of them have lost their lives. He couldn't be little generous to congratulate them? Or condole those who have lost their lives? said the TMC Rajya Sabha MP. "No thanks to the state governments even in one of your statements. He could have thanked them and said what they are doing, the Centre could have learnt so much from different states, like my state, Bengal. What are the good things we did, what are the best practices we did. Nothing, he said. He also questioned the government over its preparations to the fight the virus. What preparation was done by this government? When we from Trinamool on March 18 came to Parliament wearing masks, what happened? Five of us MPs were asked to leave the House," he said.
The TMC leader claimed preparations were in fact made to welcome US President Donald Trump. "You didn't do any preparation, no preparation (for fighting the virus). You did preparation when Trump came. What were you doing then? You were giving Trump laddus. You were giving him Dhokla. I don't know what else were you giving him? But that is the time when you announced this lockdown. You said you spoke to chief ministers. I challenge you. What did you write to chief ministers before the lockdown? Not one meeting…you said you had 45 video conferences. How many of those video conferences were before the lockdown?" he said.
The TMC MP added the government announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice and no preparation. Tomorrow we will ask them these questions. The problem is they do not have any answers," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP also alleged the Centre did not take the state governments in confidence while making decisions on the pandemic. Out of Rs 100 spent on health, the state governments give Rs 65 and the Centre Rs 35, yet the state governments get no thank you for their work, he said. Now they are doing damage-control and do not want to answer questions on the crisis. On January 30 was India's first case, with the lockdown announced, we had 600 cases per day now we have one lakh cases per day. What are you asking us to do? To bang on the thala…light diyas. We did all that but you have to respect scientific evidence.
"This is a government which is entertaining Donald Trump. This is a government which was trying to run Parliament in March. This is a government now at least today, all 800 MPs have been asked to wear masks. When we were telling you from the 12th and 13th of March, this is a dangerous pandemic, allow us to wear masks and you were saying to get out," he alleged. In his statement, Vardhan said the nationwide lockdown, community involvement and other step prevented up to 38,000 deaths and 29 lakh COVID-19 cases in the country. He also said that government efforts have been able to limit coronavirus numbers to 3,328 cases and 55 deaths per million population, which is one of the lowest in the world. The minister informed Rajya Sabha that from a situation of a single laboratory equipped to undertake testing for COVID in January, presently 1,705 laboratories are conducting COVID-19 testing.