Raipur: Coronavirus cases in Chhattisgarh have seen a sharp spike in last 10 days and the issue has now snowballed into a major political slugfest.
The opposition BJP has accused the Congress’ Bhupesh Baghel government of “deliberately suppressing Covid data to save his image”, but the government dismissed the charge, saying it’s all “loose talk”.
Talking to ThePrint, state BJP president and Antagarh MLA Vikram Usendi said the Chhattisgarh government is following the West Bengal model to conceal the Covid data, and fatalities are happening due to this.
According to official data, until 13 May, the state had only 3 active cases, which in the last 10 days have now gone up to 110. The state has a total of 172 cases so far. The remaining 62 patients have recovered and gone back home, the data showed.
Officials tackling the Covid outbreak in Chhattisgarh told ThePrint most of the 110 active cases are of migrant workers who have returned to the state from across the country.
Chhattisgarh was expecting a rise in its Covid cases with the return of a large number of migrant workers from cities falling under red zones.
Deaths under ‘mysterious’ circumstances
BJP MLA Usendi alleged that deaths at quarantine centres under “suspicious circumstances” have raised serious doubts about transparency of the Bhupesh Baghel government’s Covid management.
Giving details about such incidents, Usendi told ThePrint: “Recently, a man was tested for Covid in Bemetara, three hours after his death, but the actual cause of death has not been ascertained yet. Similarly, another person (in the same district) was being treated as a corona suspect, but later on, he was declared to be negative. However, the doctor treating that patient has been kept in quarantine.”
Usendi claimed that the death of two people in Surajpur district around 10 days ago is also being considered suspicious.
“The state government is trying its best to prove them as Covid-negative cases,” he said, adding that the government should have conducted a post-mortem in these two cases.
BJP collecting information, will ‘expose’ govt
BJP state spokesperson and former MLA Srichand Sundrani echoed Usendi and said the Chhattisgarh government is trying to score political brownie points by showing there has been no death due to Covid-19.
“BJP is acquiring complete information in this regard. The state government will be duly exposed after collection of entire data,” he added.
Sundarani said during the early phases of the outbreak, the chief minister claimed the state government had managed to control the spread of coronavirus in the state “in consultation with (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi”.
“Now what is the reason behind this sporadic rise in the cases of coronavirus? Did the chief minister stop seeking counsel from Rahul Gandhi,” he asked.
‘Loose talk’ by BJP, says Congress
Reacting to the BJP’s allegation that the state government is hiding Covid data, Chhattisgarh Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo said it’s sad that senior members from the opposition are making baseless and irresponsible allegations.
“How can a government conceal corona-positive reports? BJP members are making allegations according to their own convenience,” he told ThePrint.
Deo said a positive case can’t be hidden as it goes through proper channels.
“Most of the tests here are done by AIIMS, Raipur, which our BJP friends, when it suits them, say it’s the government of India’s initiative. This they do for the fact that AIIMS management is associated with the central government. Are they trying to point fingers at the working of AIIMS,” he asked.
“This is all extremely loose talk. If they (BJP) are responsible public persons, they should be able to substantiate their allegations,” he added.
BJP’s ‘low-level’ rhetoric
Sushil Anand, the chief spokesperson of the ruling Congress, told ThePrint the state government is taking all measures in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Centre to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“Why would the state government try to hide any information? How are we likely to gain from this? Like every citizen of the state, the government also wants to end the outbreak as early as possible,” he said.
“BJP leaders should not indulge in such low-level rhetoric at these times. It is the combined result of the hard work of the government and the doctors that there has not been a single fatality from Covid in Chhattisgarh yet,” he added.
According to the state government data, there are 18,460 quarantine centres for migrant workers, where nearly 7.68 people can be accommodated. At present, nearly 1.34 lakh migrants are under quarantine.