Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien on Tuesday slammed Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for only congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the fight against the coronavirus but not state governments and health workers or condoling their deaths because of the infection, NDTV reported.
“So many of them [health workers] lost their lives.” O’Brien told reporters outside Parliament. “He [Harsh Vardhan] couldn’t be a little generous and congratulate them? Or condole those who have lost their lives? Tomorrow we will ask these questions. The problem is they do not have any answers.”
He was referring to the motion moved by the government to suspend Question Hour in Lok Sabha on Monday during the Monsoon Session. The motion was moved by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, saying the Lok Sabha session is being held amid extraordinary circumstances. “There are so many ways to question the government, [the] government isn’t running away from discussion,” Joshi said.
On Tuesday, O’Brien also accused the Centre of not properly preparing for the nationwide lockdown but making arrangements for the visit of United States President Donald Trump to India in February, a month after the first case of the coronavirus was reported in the country.
“You didn’t do any preparation [for fighting coronavirus], you did preparation when Trump came,” he told reporters out Parliament. “What were you doing? You were giving Trump ladoos, you were giving him dhokla. That is the time when you announced this lockdown.”
O’Brien was one of the five MPs evicted from Parliament on March 18 for wearing a mask.
The Trinamool Congress leader also questioned the government over its handling of the pandemic. “India’s first case was reported on January 30,” he said. “When the lockdown was announced, we had 600 cases per day, now we have one lakh cases per day. What are you [central government] asking us to do? To bang plates...light diyas.”
He also claimed that states were not taken into confidence before the decision to impose the lockdown was announced.
Earlier in the day, Vardhan told the Parliament that the battle against the “pandemic is far from over”. He added that the decision to impose a nationwide lockdown prevented around 37,000 to 78,000 fatalities and 14 lakh to 29 lakh coronavirus infections.
India’s coronavirus tally rose to 49,30,236 as it reported 83,809 new cases in 24 hours. The toll rose by 1,054 to 80,776.