Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan held a press conference with Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Health Minister of Bihar Mangal Pandey in Muzaffarpur on Sunday, June 16. There were several issues on the agenda, including the death of over 100 children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome over the last two weeks and steps the central government should adopt to ensure that such tragedies don't happen in the future.
In a shocking incident, Mangal Pandey asked the reporters a question instead. It was related to Indian versus Pakistan match.
A video posted by news agency ANI showed Pandey enquiring about the latest score in the World Cup cricket match. "How many wickets have fallen till now?" he was heard asking, to which he received the answer: "Four wickets."
Opposition leaders demanded the resignation of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on Monday for allegedly asking about the score during the World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan, while he was at a press conference of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in Muzaffarpur district where nearly 100 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
The opposition RJD, Congress, HAM and Left parties leaders have demanded Pandey's resignation for his display of "insensitivity".
"Pandey was more interested to know the cricket score when Harsh Vardhan was addressing the media on how to control the situation after outbreak of AES that claimed so many children's lives," said RJD leader Ram Chandra Purve.
Purve demanded Pandey's resignation and said his party will take up this issue.
Hindustani Awam Morch spokesperson Danish Rizwan said Pandey's priority was cricket and not children dying from AES.
CPI(M) leader Manoj Kumar said "such a minister has no moral right to continue."
Mangal Pandey's query about cricket came at a time when Ashwini Kumar Choubey was already facing criticism over photographs that seemed to show him sleeping at another press conference on encephalitis-related deaths in Muzaffarpur. He, however, sought to clear the air today by claiming that he was not dozing but in "deep thought".
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter.