Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Sunday blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for pushing the state into a deep COVID-19 crisis through the toppling of his government, claiming that the power game in the state delayed the nationwide lockdown.
“Madhya Pradesh is the only state which has no health minister and no home minister...Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath as chief minister on March 23, and the lockdown began a day later,” Nath said at an AICC media briefing.
“Rahul ji had on February 12 drawn the attention of the government to the threat posed by coronavirus. However, the Centre delayed action because it was more interested in toppling the government in Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
He said Parliament continued to function despite several state assemblies having adjourned in view of the spread of COVID-19 only so that it could be established that if Parliament could function, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which was adjourned by the Speaker, could also be convened.
On the current situation in Madhya Pradesh with regard to coronavirus, Nath said that at such a crucial juncture, Chouhan is functioning without a cabinet. “The Constitution clearly says that there shall be a council of ministers. Vivek Tankha is absolutely right in pointing out the crisis in Madhya Pradesh to the president. Since March 23, when the situation with regard to COVID-19 is so serious, there is no cabinet. It is akin to making a joke of the people,” he said.
He said that soon after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, his government had closed down all schools, colleges and malls.
Nath said the situation with regard to the spread of the virus in Madhya Pradesh was grim, with around 45 officials of the health department, including the Principal Secretary, Health themselves getting infected.
He raised the issue of inadequate testing in Madhya Pradesh, saying for every 10 lakh people, barely 25 or 30 people were being tested. He also said that testing was focused only on the urban areas, and the rural areas were being ignored.
“What is a matter of concern is that the figures are for urban areas and not for rural areas. People have come back from adjoining states and gone to their villages. We have no idea if they have brought any infection with them and how many people they might have further infected,” he said.
On the political developments in the state, he said majority of the 22 MLAs who have switched over to the BJP will find it difficult to get re-elected. “They will have to face the people in the end. All their life, they criticised the BJP, and now they will go to the people carrying BJP flags,” the former CM said.
Nath added there will also be dissatisfaction in the BJP with regard to the new inductees as the leaders of the saffron party will feel that their turf is being encroached upon.
“My sympathy is with Shivraj. I wonder how he will run a government which includes 10-12 ministers who in the past used to criticise him. He will now sit in the cabinet with the same people,” he said.