The Congress on Thursday demanded the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party MP Tejasvi Surya and party MLA Satish Reddy, alleging they were behind the scam involving blocking of hospital beds meant for Covid patients in Bengaluru, reported PTI. So far seven people have been arrested in connection with the case.

On Wednesday, a group of Bharatiya Janata Party legislators alleged that beds in Bengaluru were being blocked under the names of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients or those under home isolation, but were sold to others. At a live press conference, the party leaders claimed that officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike colluded with private nursing homes and hospitals to block beds and reserve it for exorbitant fees.

In doing so, the group, including Bengaluru South MP Surya, also gave a communal twist to the allegations, accusing Muslims working in a coronavirus war room of being responsible for the conspiracy, without any evidence.

Surya listed 17 officials responsible for the alleged scam, all of whom are Muslims. The BJP leader asked why so many from the same community were appointed in the war room. Subsequent reports made it evident that Surya had simply read out the names of 17 Muslims officials from among more than 200 employees across various shifts, offering no evidence or explanation for why only these individuals were highlighted.

However, the Congress alleged that BJP leaders, including Surya and Reddy, themselves were behind the alleged scam, according to PTI. The Karnataka Congress unit cited local media reports to support its allegations.

In a tweet, the party alleged that 80% of the beds were blocked by BJP MLA Reddy, who was running a “blocking racket” in the city. “It’s like pot calling the kettle black,” the Congress added, according to PTI. “The truth has come out now that the BJP leaders are behind the bed blocking scam.”

The party added: “Arrest Satish Reddy who has been operating the bed booking scam with the help of his supporters, and the young MP [Tejasvi Surya] who accompanied him, and carry out a detailed investigation,” PTI reported.

BJP National General Secretary BL Santhosh slammed the Congress for attacking Surya, saying the opposition was “bankrupt both in thoughts and actions”.

“After Tejasvi Surya exposed the hospital bed booking scam of BBMP, all were silent for a while,” he wrote on Twitter. “Suddenly everyone started shouting realising that the names were from a single community. Their secularism was in danger.”

Bengaluru police searches covid war rooms

Meanwhile, the police in Bengaluru carried out searches at the city corporation’s Covid war rooms, in the backdrop of the alleged scandal.

The police said it searched eight war rooms in the city. “Lots of data has been collected,” it said, adding that eight teams were scrutinising all the information gathered from there. “Further action will be taken based on information taken out of the data.”