Lucknow: A BJP MLA in Uttar Pradesh has hit out at his government over the Covid-19 handling in the state, even suggesting that if he spoke too much, he may be slapped with sedition charges.
“Maine prayas kiye, lekin hum sarkar toh hain nahi, lekin jo sarkar keh rahi hai wahi thik. Hum vidhayakon ki haisiyat kya hai, jyada bolenge to rajdroh laga diya jayega (I have taken many steps but what is an MLA’s worth? If we say too much, we’ll be slapped with sedition charges),” Sitapur MLA Rakesh Rathore told reporters Monday after taking stock of Covid-19 preparations in his constituency.
Critics of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have always claimed that his administration uses the sedition law, or Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, to stifle dissent.
Asked if he was suggesting that as an MLA, he could not make a representation to his own government, Rathore replied: “Aapko lagta hai ki vidhayak keh sakte hain kya apni baat ko? (Do you think MLAs can speak their mind? You know I have raised questions in the past).”
After the video of his statements went viral, the MLA told ThePrint that he stands by his remarks.
“My stand is very clear in that video; I do not want to add much,” Rathore said. “Basically, I had demanded a trauma centre at Jamaiyatpur area of Sitapur district. There is a building allocated for it but the trauma centre has not started yet.
“I had written to the CM but it has not been started yet,” he added. “So then how do we improve medical facilities here? How will the public get proper treatment in this Covid phase?”
A source close to the MLA told ThePrint that he was very upset with the medical facilities in the district. “He talked to several ministers and officials in Lucknow about the conditions of hospitals in Sitapur district but no one responded positively,” the source said. “That’s why he has hit out at his own party’s government in the state.”
Rakesh, a first-time MLA, had joined the BJP, from the BSP, before the 2017 assembly elections in the state.
This, however, isn’t the first time that Rathore has hit out at his government. Last year, he was served a show cause notice by the BJP after an audio clip went viral, in which he is heard ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to clang pots and pans during the first Covid-19 wave.
A growing list
While they may not match Rathore’s direct criticism, a number of Uttar Pradesh BJP politicians have been questioning the functioning of the state’s Yogi Adityanath government.
On 6 May, Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, who belongs to the state, wrote to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, flagging concerns on the shortage of medical oxygen, alleged black-marketing of essential medical equipment and about the ignorance from the officials.
BJP MP from Kanpur, Satyadev Pachauri, had also written to the chief minister in the first week of May, highlighting that people in Kanpur were dying outside their homes, outside hospitals and inside ambulances because of absence of timely treatment.
Cabinet Minister Brajesh Pathak was among the first to write to his own state government, when, in the second week of April, he raised questions on the state of health services in Lucknow.
In the last week of April, the Mohanlalganj BJP MP Kaushal Kishore wrote to Adityanath about the poor condition of ventilators in two government hospitals of Lucknow. He also warned that he would sit on a dharna if the district administration did not take remedial action.
In the same week, the BJP MLA from Lakhimpur Kheri, Lokendra Singh, also wrote to the chief minister over oxygen shortage in Kheri district.
Other BJP politicians to flag the poor condition of hospitals and functioning of officials include the Garautha MLA Jawahar Lal Rajput, the Jhansi Nagar MLA Ravi Sharma and the Babina MLA Rajeev Singh Parichha.
A BJP functionary told ThePrint that none of this amounted to dissent and was just “miscommunication”.
“There are some issues or a sort of miscommunication among some of our MLAs and the government but I am sure it will be sorted soon,” the BJP leader said. “We are a disciplined party and have unity in the cadre. We will resolve it soon.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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