BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra. (File photo)
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra. (File photo)

States, UTs did not report deaths due to oxygen shortage: BJP

“The data that was presented in Parliament yesterday is not collated by the Centre but sent by states and Union territories. If the Opposition says the Centre has not put correct data, then they should ask their own state governments what has gone wrong,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said
PUBLISHED ON JUL 21, 2021 02:26 PM IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said the blame for not reporting deaths on account of oxygen shortage during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic lies with the state and Union territory governments since they did not report any such casualties to the Union government.

“The data that was presented in Parliament yesterday is not collated by the Centre but sent by states and Union territories. If the Opposition says the Centre has not put correct data, then they should ask their own state governments what has gone wrong,” BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

The BJP was responding to the criticism that the Union government faced for informing Parliament that “no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs”. In a written reply to a question on whether a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen during the second wave, minister of state for health, Bharati Pawar told the Rajya Sabha, “Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by the Union health ministry to all states and UTs… Accordingly, all states and UTs report cases and deaths to the Union health ministry on a regular basis. However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs.”

Patra blamed the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) for not sharing the data from the state where they are in power.

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He said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had specifically mentioned that on the intervening night of April 23 and April 24, 21 people died because of oxygen shortage in Jaipur Golden Hospital.

“The issue was referred to Delhi high court which said a committee should be constituted by the Delhi government and on the 28th, a committee was formed. The committee said all the 21 patients were getting oxygen throughout their hospital stay, including at the time of resuscitation, and there was no mention of oxygen shortage. Many of the reported patients had one or multiple co-morbidities such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypothyroidism and hypertension,” he said. He went on to add that the report submitted to the court said all these patients were receiving some form of oxygen therapy or ventilator support during the hospital stay and there is lack of any evidence to suggest that these deaths were because of oxygen shortage.

Patra said while Kejriwal government was claiming oxygen shortage, in a written report to the high court, it said there were no deaths because of oxygen shortage. “Did the Delhi government give any data to the Central government indicating even one life was lost because of oxygen shortage?” Patra asked, addressing the media.

He also lashed out at the Congress for politicising the pandemic and said while they have been pinning the blame for the shortage of oxygen and deaths on the Union government, Congress-ruled states such as Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra (where it is runs a coalition government with the Shiv Sena) have also not reported any deaths on account of oxygen shortage.

“The Maharashtra government told the high court in an affidavit there is no shortage…The Chhattisgarh health minister, TS Singh Deo, also said there were no deaths because of oxygen shortage. …Then why is Rahul Gandhi politicising the issue? Both the Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh governments are stating that there have been no deaths due to oxygen shortage. Why are you creating fear and confusion in the country,” Patra said.

Attacking Rahul Gandhi, the former Congress president, Patra said, “He has acted as a Twitter troll.”

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On why the Union government did not seek data from the states or attempt to collect it themselves, Patra said had a Central team been sent to fetch data from Delhi or West Bengal, the state governments would have alleged that the Union government is “ killing democracy”.

“We want to know why the Congress and the AAP abstained from the meeting that was called regarding the preparations of the third wave by the Prime Minister. They only politicise issues,” Patra said. He was referring to the meeting of the PM with the floor leaders of parties on Tuesday which was not attended by the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the AAP.

To a separate question on why the data has not been shared by the BJP-ruled states, Patra said, state such as Uttar Pradesh had not been complaining of shortages. “The UP chief minister has not blamed any other state or the Centre. He said,’ we are preparing and we do not have any shortages’. But Arvind Kejriwal used to have a press conference every day to complain,” he said.

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