New Delhi: There seems to be growing resentment among BJP MLAs and leaders in Madhya Pradesh over Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s handling of the Covid-19 second wave.
While a number of MLAs have been raising the issue in private, some have started speaking out in public too. Many are demanding that a month-long complete lockdown be imposed in the state.
The state is currently under a “janta curfew”, which bars all but essential services. While some districts had imposed their own restrictions earlier, the state-wide curfew, which began 18 April (initially scheduled to end 30 April but pushed to 7 May) was Thursday extended until 15 May. CM Chouhan Thursday appealed to people to defer all activities, including weddings, as he sought to emphasise the importance of breaking the chain of transmission.
According to BJP sources, in meetings, many party members have been pressing for a complete lockdown, citing the state’s lack of health infrastructure to handle the pandemic, including hospital beds, oxygen and ventilators.
Two MLAs, Narayan Tripathi of Maihar (Satna) and Surendra Patwa of Bhojpur, have also written to the government in this respect. In his letter to state Health Minister Prabhuram Chowdhary last month, Patwa raised concerns over the state of hospitals and complained about mismanagement.
Tripathi, who has written two letters to the chief minister, raised similar issues, besides flagging complaints of private hospitals charging patients exorbitantly. He also lashed out at the “virtual meetings” being held by the government to review the situation, saying they serve no purpose.
ThePrint reached Chouhan’s CMO by message but they refused to comment on the letters and the issues raised by the MLAs. However, a source in the government said the “curfew is like a lockdown and has been extended till 15 May on the directions of the chief minister”.
“As far as private hospitals charging an exorbitant amount is concerned, the government has sealed four such hospitals so far. The government is sensitive to the needs of the people,” the government official added.
MP recorded 12,319 new Covid infections Wednesday, taking the number of active cases to 89,244. It has recorded 6,074 Covid deaths so far, according to Union Health Ministry data.
‘Vindhya region in bad condition’
Speaking to ThePrint, Tripathi said the party has been indulging in the “tamasha” of virtual meetings, “which is not going to serve any purpose”.
In his letters, Tripathi has urged the chief minister to impose a complete lockdown and ensure that private hospitals don’t charge patients exorbitantly.
People are forced to die by staying at home or in a nearby hospital due to lack of beds, he said in the letters.
He has also asked the government to provide foodgrains to the public if a lockdown is imposed.
“I wrote one letter on 29 April and another on 3 May. I spoke to the chief minister a few days back too. If we aren’t able to help the people who make us MLAs, then we should quit politics,” he said.
“Everyone knew that the second wave would hit India but still nothing was done. Even today, we have a shortage of beds and oxygen. If ventilators are there, they are not functional, ambulances are charging exorbitant amounts. I told the CM about all this,” he added.
Whenever he raised such issues, he said, a section of party leaders termed him a rebel leader. “Why are my letters, my demand, my advice taken as a rebellion? I understand my responsibility as a general worker of the BJP and want to make you aware of the reality,” he said.
In his letters, Tripathi asked the CM to “please save Madhya Pradesh”, and emphasised that a “full lockdown is the only option”.
“At present, our Vindhya region is in a bad condition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation is the same across the country. There are no beds in government hospitals, there is no sign of a ventilator, people are dying without oxygen. There is no provision of essential medicines,” he said in his letters.
“There is an outcry for remesdivir injections. But on television channels, our leaders are issuing statements that everything is fine. That everything’s under control. Such statements are becoming a joke,” he added.
‘Why will people vote for us’
While the Maihar legislator is ready to speak publicly, not everyone in the BJP who is resentful about the state’s Covid handling is.
“During the first phase, too, we were severely hit, and now once again. So many states have gone for a complete lockdown and are benefitting from it. Look at Maharashtra now, the situation was so bad and see how they are doing now,” said a senior BJP leader.
Another BJP leader told ThePrint that party members end up doing virtual meetings that “achieve nothing”.
“We are not here to give attendance, we are people’s representatives. Why would they vote for us if we won’t be there for them during such hard times?” the leader said, pointing to the April Damoh bypoll, where the Congress won, as a sign.
“Damoh’s result is for everyone to see, despite being in power we lost the bypoll. There is still time to make amends,” the leader added.
The bypoll in Damoh was necessitated by the resignation of the incumbent MLA who quit the Congress to join the BJP. Its result was announced Sunday.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)