Opposition likely to move privilege motion for reply on oxygen scarcity

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 21, 2021

Bharati Pravin Pawar had said that no one has died because of non-availability of oxygen

The Opposition is planning a privilege motion against an answer in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State Bharati Pravin Pawar that no one has died because of non-availability of oxygen. The BJP said States have not provided data to prove that Covid patients died due to shortage of oxygen. The Opposition, however, said the Centre’s decision to change the oxygen distribution policy after April 13 resulted in a disaster.

Figures by States/UTs

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said the Centre’s answer was based on the figures provided by States and UTs as health is a State subject. “No State sent any data about patients dying due to oxygen shortage,” he claimed. He said Opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal are trying to play politics on the issue. “You (Rahul Gandhi) have acted as a Twitter troll throughout the pandemic by writing two-line lies frequently. It is painful that a former president of one of the largest parties has behaved so irresponsibly,” said Patra on Wednesday.

He said the State Governments of Delhi, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh had claimed even in courts that there was no evidence to suggest people had died due to shortage of oxygen. “These Opposition-ruled States had spoken about patients dying due to the oxygen crisis when the second wave was peaking, as they wanted to target the Modi government, but have taken a different stand in writing and their submission to courts,” he said

AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal, whose question on oxygen shortage got such an answer, said Pawar has misled the House. He said on Tuesday that he would file a privilege notice against the Minister for tabling wrong information in the House.

In an emotional speech during a discussion on Covid management, RJD MP Manoj Jha had also requested the Centre to not to fudge the number of deaths. “I request you in the name of thousands of dead bodies floated in Ganga, please do not dishonour the dead,” said Jha.

‘Govt exposed’

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Centre’s untruthfulness in Parliament stands completely exposed. “Such naked denial of truth is unprecedented. Parliament should hold the government accountable for ‘breach of Parliamentary privilege’,” he said.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his government is ready to probe all deaths reportedly caused due to shortage of oxygen during second wave of Covid 19 if the Centre allows the Delhi government to form a panel. He asked the Centre not to hide its faults, and said the problems started after the Centre changed its oxygen distribution policy after April 13. He said such a change in policy has resulted in a disaster. “The government shamelessly told white lies in Parliament. There was utter chaos due to oxygen shortage after April 15 till May 5, and there is no big deal that people would die due to oxygen shortage,” he said.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the rise in export of oxygen caused deaths. “No death due to lack of oxygen: Central Government. The deaths happened because in the pandemic year, the government increased oxygen exports by about 700 per cent. No initiative was shown in setting up oxygen plants in hospitals,” she said.

Pawar had said in the answer that detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union Health Ministry to all States and Union Territories. “Accordingly, all States and UTs report cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by States and UTs,” she said on Tuesday.

Published on July 21, 2021

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