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UP CM Adityanath targets Rahul and Akhilesh, says Gorakhpur not a ‘picnic spot’

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated a cleanliness campaign in Gorakhpur. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to meet the families of the victims and visit the BRD hospital.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2017 14:50 IST
Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
Yogi Adityanath,Gorakhpur,Rahul Gandhi
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath takes part in a cleanliness drive in Gorakhpur on Saturday. (HT Photo)

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath lashed out at his rivals on Saturday and accused them of making a “picnic spot” out of Gorakhpur where nearly 100 children have died in a state-run hospital this month, triggering nationwide criticism.

Adityanath hit out at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav without naming them as he launched a cleanliness drive to fight diseases in eastern UP, where thousands die because of water and vector-borne infections.

Both opposition leaders have repeatedly demanded the CM’s resignation over the deaths of at least 30 children in 48 hours in Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College allegedly because of oxygen shortage.

“Yuvraj sitting in Delhi and Shahzada in Lucknow can’t understand the importance of cleanliness drive launched by the government,” Adityanath said in a Dalit colony in Gorakhpur. “For them (Akhikesh and Rahul), Gorakhpur is a picnic spot.” Gandhi was on his way to Gorakhpur to meet the families of the dead children on Saturday.

Akhilesh announced a financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased when he visited Gorakhpur on August 14.

“I think we should not give permission to anyone to make a picnic trip to Gorakhpur,” Adityanath said and blamed the previous Akhilesh-led state government for not joining the Swachch Bharat Mission. “The drive is actually a massive campaign to check deaths caused due to vector and waterborne diseases, especially in east UP,” he said.

Adityanath is facing a storm of criticism for the poor infrastructure at BRD hospital in Gorakhpur, which he represented for about two decades in Parliament, but has denied any responsibility. His government has admitted to an oxygen shortage but has attributed the deaths to encephalitis. But opponents point out that repeated letters by the oxygen supplier to the government and hospital authorities for clearance of payment were ignored over several months.

To counter the criticism, the state government launched a sanitation drive between August 19 to 25 on the lines of Swachh Bharat mission.

On Saturday, Adityanath claimed as Gorakhpur MP he fought for encephalitis-affected children for 20 years and had even appealed to the previous governments to undertake sanitation drives.

“But the insensitive governments involved in corrupt practices didn’t pay heed to my demands,” he said while passing on the buck to the previous Akhilesh Yadav government for the tragedy.

“Vectorborne JE (Japanese Encephalitis) and waterborne AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome) are two virus responsible for the death of children and more than cure, prevention is needed to tackle them effectively,” he said.

Announcing that the sanitation drive has been launched in 38 districts, he said over 9.3 million children have already been vaccinated and the drive has started showing good results.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 12:59 IST