Opposition puts Yogi govt on the backfoot on UP children’s deaths

63 children died in Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath’s town, as the hospital did not clear dues for oxygen in spite of being warned that supply would cease <br>

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Biswajeet Banerjee

The catastrophe that struck BRD Medical College of Gorakhpur where 63 children died in two days has turned out to be a battleground for political parties trying to score brownie points with the Opposition blaming Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The BJP spokesman, also the state Health Minister, is, quite comically, threatening to “expose” previous governments.

The media space has been filled within no time with claims and counter-claims as to who is responsible for the death of the children. Some asked as to why the payment to the agency which is responsible for oxygen supply was delayed while others questioned if this is happening in Gorakhpur, the city Yogi belongs to, one can understand what is happening in other parts of the state.

“It is not death of children. It is blatant murder of innocent lives,” SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry said. Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held the Yogi government responsible for the catastrophe and demanded that the government pays a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to each of the victims’ families.

BJP did not hold its punches back too as Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who is also the government spokesman, said: “This is not the time to do politics. But if Opposition starts raising questions then we will ask as to why this company was selected to supply oxygen. Whose company is this and why people were appointed on ad hoc basis.”

Singh did not say exactly who owns Pushpa sales Firm, the Lucknow-based company which supplies Oxygen to BRD Medical college. But sources said it belonged to a Samajwadi party leader close to Akhilesh Yadav.

The Firm used to supply Oxygen cylinders but the hospital had not cleared dues which had gone up to Rs 68 lakh. Two days back, the company had informed the hospital administration that it would not be able to supply oxygen unless the dues were cleared.

Dr RN Singh, a paediatrician in Gorakhpur, said that a human tragedy has taken the shape of a political debate. The Opposition is blaming Yogi but the fact is that during his last visit to BRD College on July 9, the CM had a meeting with the doctors and had asked them about the problems they were facing. No one told him about the delay in clearing payment for oxygen.

“If doctors had told him, the CM would have cleared Rs 68 lakh in minutes,” Dr Singh said.

In this melee, however, the voices of those who lost their children have died down. “My son died because this hospital does not have oxygen. They even did not tell us the truth. We would have taken my son to a private hospital,” Suresh Chandra, whose 7-year-old son died on Friday morning said.

“Ab rajniti ho rahi hai bachcho ki laash pe. (Politics is done on the dead bodies of children),” he said.

Some tweets since the tragedy broke out:

  • Digvijay Singh tweeted to say that Modi had congratulated Nitish within minutes of his resignation but is silent on the death of 30 children. He should speak out.
  • Manish Tiwari said: Last tweet from @narendramodi 17 hrs ago. Not a word condoling death of 30 innocent children/infants due to lack of oxygen
  • Neelesh Mishra, Radio jockey said: Gorakhpur and eastern UP’s health crisis is not about one party or one government. It is a collective failure of governance across the years.
  • Shekhar Gupta, journalist: Gorakhpur is our most dysfunctional city of this size. Hopeless as hell. Nothing has changed here for decades except reigning mafia.
  • Rahul Gandhi said: “Deeply pained. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. BJP govt is responsible & should punish the negligent who caused this tragedy.”
  • Government of UP: No one died in BRD College because of lack of Oxygen. (Translated from Hindi)
  • Akhilesh Yadav: Parents were chased away with dead bodies of their kids. They were not even given admit card. Unfortumnate. (translated from Hindi)
  • Neelesh Misra: Dear Mainstream media, #Gorakhpur is what happens when you do not do your job on health reporting and make it a headline only in tragedy.

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