The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh may put up a brave front and remain in denial of a COVID crisis, but the rising complaints and unease within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership paints another picture: Everything is NOT ‘changa si’.
On Sunday, 9 May, the state health department reported 23,333 new COVID cases and 296 deaths. These are official numbers which may not include the 45 bodies found floating in the Ganga river in Buxar. The authorities claimed that the bodies had been thrown into the river upstream in Uttar Pradesh.
Over the past few days, MPs and MLAs have publicly complained to the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, saying that there is a shortage of oxygen, beds, medical equipment, and that patients are dying in vain without receiving any medical support.
The Ministers Who’ve Complained
Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Gangwar wrote to CM Adityanath on Thursday, 6 May, highlighting a series of concerns including oxygen shortage and delays in hospital admissions. He also alleged that multipara monitors, bipap machines, and ventilators were being sold under the counter at exaggerated prices.
The Union minister further complained, “I have been informed that despite having a referral letter, when a patient goes to a government hospital, he is asked to get another referral from the district hospital. The patient has to run from one place to another while his oxygen levels are continuously falling.”
Though CM Adityanath visited the Bareilly district after the letter was passed on to him, several others in the state are facing similar tribulations. Earlier, BJP’s Bareilly MLA Kesar Singh had also written a letter but to no avail, and eventually he succumbed to COVID.
Uttar Pradesh Cabinet minister and Lucknow MLA Brijesh Pathak, Mohanlalganj MLA Kaushal Kishore who lost his brother to COVID, Basti MP Haish Dwivedi, Bhadohi MLA Dinanath Bhaskar, and Kanpur MP Satyadev Pachauri are all among those who have written letters to the CM.
Minister of State for Labor Welfare Sunil Bharala had written letters regarding lack of oxygen, beds, and remedies in hospitals in Meerut.
Rajendra Agarwal, MP from Meerut-Hapur had also told the CM about the lack of oxygen in his area.
Rudhauli Basti BJP MLA Sanjay Pratap Jaiswal wrote regarding the lack of medicine and beds in his constituency.
Why they had to write letters and not directly engage with CM Adityanath can only be understood by their helplessness in assisting people from their constituencies.
Why This Public Display of Disaffection?
In Bhadohi, Lal Bahadur Maurya, BJP district general secretary, died from COVID after which BJP MLA Dinanath Bhaskar from Aurai seat in the district accused his own government for the death of the party leader.
As per journalist Navalkant Sinha, the pandemic was clearly not handled the way it should have been. A minister told Sinha, “If I can’t help people in this situation, then all my relations will come to an end.”
On Sunday, BJP’s Firozabad MLA Pappu Lodhi, who is himself COVID-positive, had released a video on social media saying his COVID-positive wife had to spend two to three hours lying on the ground at SN Medical College Agra as she waited for a bed, The Indian Express reported.
As per journalist Brajesh Shukla, the problem is not just the collapsing health infrastructure. He was informed that a BJP leader had to call a chief medical officer 34 times, but still couldn’t have his call answered.
Shukla suggested that the problem is also with the officers lobby, which is why BJP leaders are forced to display their disaffection with their chief minister publicly.
Arvind Giri, BJP MLA from Gola Gokarannath said, “In the past 10 days, hundreds of people including two-dozen friends lost their lives due to lack of oxygen. This is the ground reality,” Scroll reported.
CM’s Heavy-Handed Approach Towards Those Asking for Help
Uttar Pradesh, which has the fourth-highest caseload in the country, has been reporting a severe shortage of healthcare resources.
Meanwhile, CM Adityanath had denied any shortage of any kind and on the contrary asked officials to take action under the National Security Act (NSA) and the Gangsters Act against “anti-social elements” who spread rumours and propaganda on social media.
Although that did not stop the SOS calls from hospitals and people, it did create an atmosphere of fear among civil society members reaching out to help.
While maintaining that the situation is getting better, Adityanath said in Ayodhya on Monday, “The second wave, all of a sudden, presented a challenge before the state as well as the entire country. The situation is under control now. Over the last 10 days, active cases in the state have gone down by 85,000.”
Uttar Pradesh on Monday recorded 21,331 new COVID-19 cases that took the state’s total case tally to 15,24,767 while 278 fatalities pushed the death toll to 15,742.
However, this time, for a change, BJP minister are questioning the government’s denial of a dire situation and seeing how Assembly elections in UP are only 10 months away, this political uproar might have consequences. But the question remains, will the ruling party listen to its own ministers?
(With inputs from The Indian Express and Scroll)
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