Updated: May 30, 2021 9:52:52 pm
The Congress Saturday asked for a police case to be registered against Lok Sabha member Tejasvi Surya and his uncle, BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya, for allegedly “seeking commission” for “arranging Covid-19 vaccines” at a private hospital in Karnataka, after a couple of audio clips went viral. Congress also demanded a suo-motu FIR against the BJP MLA for “taking commission” for vaccines.
In one such audio, a social worker named Venkatesh is heard questioning why each dose of vaccine was priced at Rs 900 when a voice from the other side, purported to be of a staff member of a private hospital located in south Bengaluru, says that the hospital had to pay Rs 700 to (Basavanagudi) MLA Ravi Subramanya who “arranged the vaccines” for them.
Surya has been promoting the vaccination drive at a private hospital, situated in Kumaraswamy Layout. One such tweet from his account, dated May 25 read, “Vaccination drive for B’luru South, led by Vasavi Hospital. 15,000 COVISHIELD (1st dosage only) are made available for 18+ in the 1st phase. Vaccination only with prior registration. No walk-ins. Register on https://vasavi-vaccination.in”
Vaccination drive for B’luru South, led by Vasavi Hospital
15,000 COVISHIELD (1st dosage only) are made available for 18+ in the 1st phase
Vaccination only with prior registration. No walk-ins.
Register on https://t.co/xwkYmA5Hcb
— Office of Tejasvi Surya (@Offtejasvisurya) May 25, 2021
However, MLA Subramanya denied allegations that surfaced against him terming them “baseless” and as “part of a political conspiracy” against him. “Certain miscreants have used my name in an allegation about COVID Vaccine charges through an audio recording…It is a shame that these miscreants have indulged in such transgression, when the world is working towards a common good to help each other during the pandemic. The couple who have colluded should be chastened so that the public is not misguided, with a false claim,” he said in a series of tweets.
The MLA also visited the private hospital where he was seen visibly upset as he lashed out at the staff for “bringing him a bad name.” Later, he told reporters that he was only working with the local municipal body BBMP to vaccinate frontline workers in his constituency. “I will file a criminal case against the person who falsely claimed I was supplying vaccines,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the private hospital clarified that the MLA had “no connection” with the “independent” vaccination drive being organised. “The vaccines are procured by the hospital and arcs administered to people by charging the government prescribed rate.”
Later, Venkatesh shared a written complaint with the media stating the “vested interest” is evident in the “advertisement given by Surya” promoting the drive at the hospital. Citing the purported audio clip, he mentioned, “..wherein the hospital representative mentions that the vaccine can be procured from the office of the MLA of Girinagar Mr. Ravi Subramanyam and from Vasavi Hospital…The advertisement of Tejasvi Surya also showcases the name of Vasavi Hospital (sic).”
However, neither Girinagar nor Basavanagudi police stations chose to confirm any such complaint reaching them. “We have not received any complaint by name Venkatesh in it yet. However, a complaint that came to me directly airing allegations against the hospital’s vaccination programme has been forwarded to Kumaraswamy Layout police station,” DCP (South) Harish Pandey told Indianexpress.com.
Earlier this month, Surya, Subramanya, and two other MLAs — Satish Reddy (Bommanahalli) and Uday Garudachar (Chickpet) ‘raided’ a Covid-19 war room in Bengaluru South, tasked with allotting beds, alleging irregularities in the allotment of beds through the centralised system run by the BJP.
However, as the Central Crime Branch probe into the matter continues, an accused named M Babu (34) — with links to MLA Reddy’s personal assistant — has also been arrested. This comes at a time when Surya’s action of reading out names of 17 people with Muslim names seeking clarification on the ‘cash for beds scam’ is still being criticised, and voiced as his attempts to “communalise” the issue by many including leaders from the Opposition.
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