All is not well in the Punjab health department, with two BJP MLAs on top posts not seeing eye to eye.
Health and family welfare minister Madan Mohan Mittal launched a scathing attack on chief parliamentary secretary, health, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, here on Monday, asserting that she (Dr Sidhu) had no right to conduct sting operations against doctors.
Dr Sidhu had caught Dr Surjit Singh, senior medical officer (SMO), primary health centre, Bharatgarh, doing private practice here on Friday. On August 30, she had conducted a similar sting operation to catch 'absentee' government medical officer Dr Sameer Kaushal indulging in practice at a private hospital in SAS Nagar.
Talking to mediapersons here on Monday, Mittal stated that in his department, duties of the minister, principal secretary and director were clearly defined and everyone had to work as per his or her duties.
"A politician has no business to conduct sting operations against doctors, put them under confinement and order their arrest. It is the job of the vigilance department to conduct such raids," Mittal said, adding that even the principal secretary and the director of the health department did not have such powers.
He also criticised Dr Sidhu for pressing the police to register a case against the SMO. He said no police case was made out against the SMO, while asking the police not to interfere in such matters. "The police cannot and should not register any case against the SMO," Mittal said.
He said doctors were respectable members of society and if they were humiliated in such a manner, no doctor would be ready to work in the health department, adding that being the head of the department, it was his responsibility to protect the honour of doctors.
He said nobody in his department would be allowed to conduct such sting operations. "If anyone wants to be involved in such operations, he or she should join a detective agency and not hold any charge in the health department," Mittal said.
Replying to a question, Mittal said he had neither given permission for the raid against the SMO nor had she (Dr Sidhu) sought permission for the purpose.
When asked about Dr Sidhu's claim that the Punjab chief minister and deputy chief minister had given her instructions to conduct such operations, Mittal said if they had done so, she should work under them and not in the health department.
He said the sting operation conducted by Dr Sidhu in SAS Nagar was also wrong. "If she had been reined in at that time, she would not have repeated her action here," Mittal said.