Will Union Minister Santosh Gangwar’s letter to UP Chief Minister exposing O2 shortage, make a difference?

Gangwar flagged “shortage of oxygen and illegal marketing of ventilators and other medical equipment, but soon backtracked, said CM Adityanath reviewed situation

Image Courtesy:freepressjournal.in

While the nation waits for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to utter a few words of condolences to fellow Indians who have lost family members to Covid-19, or words of support and compassion to those who continue to suffer due to the pandemic, a few senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have begun speaking up. 

The latest is Union Minister Santosh Gangwar who has written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, complaining about the health crisis in his constituency Bareilly. According to multiple media reports, Gangwar has flagged many concerns including “shortage of oxygen and black marketing of ventilators and other medical equipment” in Bareilly. This complaint also raises concerns about the claim the UP Chief Minister had made that the state was not facing any shortage of oxygen in hospitals. The CM had said strict action, including seizure of property, will be taken against those “spreading rumours”. The  Lucknow administration filed a first information report (FIR) against Sun Hospital, and accused it of spreading “false rumours” over shortage of oxygen, after it had put up a notice informing the public about the situation. However, the FIR, filed at 11.30 P.M on Wednesday, had come in the wake of the Allahabad High Court, which mentioned the notice put up by Sun Hospital

As expected, Gangwar’s ‘open letter’, which has also gone viral has put on record that “there is a scarcity of oxygen in Bareilly,” he has also alleged that “ventilators and other medical equipment are being sold in the black market” adding that those in charge of the “Health department do not pick up phones, creating difficulty for Covid patients.” According to media reports the Union minister also asked “that oxygen plants be installed in the hospitals of Bareilly and the process of referring Covid patients to hospital be simplified.”

Gangwar, meanwhile, told reporters that the complaints and suggestions had come from the people, and he had only passed it on to the Chief Minister. He said, “I think the points they raised were valid and these can be investigated and decided on,” adding that  “I think oxygen is just a temporary problem. It will get solved. But there should be no black marketing.” He has of course not made it a political issue and played it safe by “passing on” the feedback of the people he represents. However this letter is significant as it blows holes in Adityanath’s assertions that there “was no shortage of oxygen in any Covid hospital” in Uttar Pradesh. According to media reports, the CM in April had said that “every infected patient does not need oxygen,” and had also asked that action under the National Security Act be taken against, and seizure of properties be done of those the administration thought were spreading “rumours” and “propaganda”.

Now, as if in damage control mode and image management after his own open letter to the UP CM created a media buzz, Union minister Gangwar, himself was quick to start praising the ‘review’ done by Adityanath in Bareilly. The CM was reportedly “satisfied” with the situation and asked the officials to “work harder” keeping the people’s interests in mind.

Bareilly has reported over 736 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, and the number of active cases is 6,387, stated news reports. 


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