Congress alleges Karnataka got PPE kits, gloves from China; false, says BJP
Even as the Congress in Karnataka alleged a massive ‘Rs 2000 crore plus’ scam in purchase of Covid related equipment and demanded a judicial probe into the matter, the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government hit back saying the allegations were false and baseless.
Leader of opposition in assembly Siddaramiah and state president DK Shivakumar addressed a press conference where they claimed that the state had spent Rs 4167 crore till date in combating Covid. The two senior Congress leaders alleged that more than Rs 2000 crore of the money spent had been siphoned off through corrupt practices by inflating prices of Covid equipment like ventilators, PPE kits, sanitizers, gloves, and other material. They also released some documents which they said showed that the material had been procured at artificially high prices.
Siddaramiah said that while the average cost of a ventilator is Rs 4 lakh and for 1000 such ventilators it should have cost only Rs 40 crore, he alleged that the government had spent Rs 120 crore. Demanding a judicial probe from a sitting high court judge, the leader of opposition in the assembly alleged that instead of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat advocated by PM Modi, BJP-led government had procured from China.”
“On one hand @PMOIndia advocates Aatma Nirbhar Bharat but here in Karnataka, his own Chief Minister @BSYBJP, has procured hundreds of crores worth Made in China medical equipment at exorbitant price. Is this not hypocrisy?” Sidaramaiah said in a tweet.
DK Shivakumar also questioned the state government saying that it was filled with ‘Kaliyugada Kauravas’ (Kauravas from Kali age a reference to characters of Mahabharata) and alleged that the BJP-led government was “no vision and only corruption”.
After the allegations levelled by the Congress, a cabinet meeting was called by CM Yediyurappa and subsequently five ministers - deputy CM Ashwath Narayan, home minister Basvraj Bommai, revenue minister R Ashoka, medical education minister Dr K Sudhakar and labour minister Shivram Hebbar - were deputed to defend the government.
The ministers, who called themselves a ‘Pancha Pandavas’ ( five Pandavas), attacked the Congress claiming that they were levelling baseless and false allegations.
Medical education minister Sudhakar said that it was unfortunate that Siddaramiah who has presented 13 budgets does not know the difference between proposal and expenditure. He also released documents by which the state government said under the previous coalition government when there were no pandemic, ventilators were purchased at the rate of Rs 21.73 lakh whereas the current government had got the ventilators with the same specifications at just Rs 14 lakh.
To Siddaramiah’s charge that Rs 815 crore had been spent on the purchase of equipment from the medical education department,Sudhakar said: “’How can this be when we have hardly spent Rs 33 crore from my ministry? Congress is day-dreaming of making a political comeback by flinging wild and baseless allegations without any proof during such a difficult situation when we are combating the pandemic. People of the state will not forgive them and will teach them a lesson.”
Other ministers too took on the main opposition party and said the charges were a figment of Congress’s imagination. However, JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy expressed anguish at the ongoing fight between BJP and Congress, saying: “At a time when all of us should be focussed on combating the pandemic and helping the poor and distressed, it is unfortunate that those two parties are focussed on political mudslinging.”