Bengaluru: Karnataka Health Minister B. Sriramulu has landed in a controversy with a statement that is being seen as an abdication of responsibility by the state government amid a worsening coronavirus situation.
Inspecting government hospitals in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district Wednesday, he said, “Only God can save us now, what can the government do?”
As on 15 July, Karnataka has 27,853 active Covid-19 cases, of which 17,051 are from capital Bengaluru alone. Karnataka reported 87 deaths Wednesday — 60 of these from Bengaluru.
With the statement drawing criticism from the Congress and even putting off his BJP colleagues, Sriramulu told ThePrint that it was misinterpreted.
“We are trying our best to fight this virus. We all are working 24×7. My request to the people of Karnataka is to cooperate and help us during this time of crisis,” he said over the phone from his residence in Ballari.
“We have imposed lockdowns in a few districts to effectively contain the virus. I requested people’s cooperation and also wished God would help us at this time,” he added.
Sriramulu said some media houses “have misreported my statement”.
“They said Sriramulu has become helpless and that I am seeking God’s intervention. Ultimately, whatever vaccination comes to help cure this infection, we should also keep faith in God is what I said. I request my media friends not to misinterpret what I have tried to communicate,” he said.
The minister said health department data shows cases are expected to double in the next two months. People, he added, should be extremely careful as the “country is heading towards the peak of the virus infection”.
‘A constant tussle’
A senior leader of the ruling BJP said he was not happy with the handling of the Covid-19 situation in the state, adding that “a constant tussle for power and need to be in the limelight” was causing a lot of administrative issues.
He was referring to the alleged power struggle between three ministers handling Covid-related responsibilities in the state. A tussle between Sriramulu and Medical Education Minister Dr K. Sudhakar forced Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to give them separate responsibilities. In June, Revenue Minister R. Ashok was made Covid minister.
“It is necessary to fight as one team. Right now the teams are split and decisions are sometimes contradicting each other,” the BJP leader said. “I think the minister should have spoken a bit more responsibly.”
Congress leader and former minister Krishna Byre Gowda said Sriramulu’s statement was shocking, adding that it reflects the “real state of affairs in Karnataka”.
“I ask a simple question — who is in charge of Bengaluru for Covid? You have eight different ministers, does that mean there will be eight different approaches to handle the crisis?” he said.
“The government can’t even make up their mind on who should be assigned responsibility, instead they are treating this as a turf for political one-upmanship and bargaining.”
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