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In deployment of army doctors, BJP eyes ‘goodwill’ ahead of 2019 polls

The Uttarakhand government’s move to rope in the services of retired army doctors has the BJP cadres elated. They feel that it will help generate “goodwill” among public, especially ahead of the 2019 polls

dehradun Updated: Sep 26, 2017 20:35 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,army doctors,Gen Bipin Rawat
The BJP government had sought deployment of retired army doctors in Uttarakhand during a meeting between chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat in Dehradun in June this year.(HT Photo)

The Uttarakhand government’s move to rope in the services of retired army doctors has the BJP cadres elated. They feel that it will help generate “goodwill” among public, especially ahead of the 2019 polls.

As the hill state grapples with nearly 60% shortage of doctors, health services, especially those in the remote areas, are in a shambles.

Thus, during a meeting with army chief Gen Bipin Rawat at Dehradun in June this year, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat sought deployment of retired army doctors in the hill state. Gen Rawat, who hails from Uttarakhand, readily agreed.

Around 71 army doctors are likely to be recruited and the process of induction, currently in its final stage, is expected to be complete in a month’s time.

“Known for their dedication, faujis (army men) are trained to serve in even the most difficult situations. It is certainly a welcome initiative, which will give boost to not only health services in remote areas in Uttarakhand, but also to our (party’s) image in the long run,” K B Thapa, an army veteran and former state coordinator of the BJP’s Gorkha cell, said.

“It is for the first time that army specialists are being brought in to heal the ailing health sector in the hill state. We are confident that the move will generate a lot of goodwill and give us an extra edge ahead of the Lok Sabha polls,” said a key party functionary, requesting not to be named.

Navin Baluni, health advisor to CM (Rawat holds the health portfolio too), said that the doctors are likely to “begin functioning in about a month’s time after formalities including salary negotiations” are completed.

“CM Sir came up with this idea as they are used to working in difficult geographical and climatic conditions, which exist in many parts of Uttarakhand,” Baluni said.

He, however, denied that there was any “political motivation” behind the move. “It is an effort purely aimed at reducing shortage of doctors and improving health services in the remote areas and has nothing to do with politics,” Baluni said.

The health department, meanwhile, has sent a list of “priority areas” – mainly community health centres as well as some primary health centres – to the state government where it wants the army doctors to be deployed.

“Besides few with MBBS degrees, most of the army doctors (who have applied) are specialists and include radiologists, orthopedic surgeons, gynecologists, anesthetists and physicians among others. They will be deployed as per requirements of a particular area,” said director general (medical health and family welfare) Dr Archana Srivastava.

First Published: Sep 26, 2017 20:35 IST