A rift seemed to play out between Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on local television on Thursday, with Sawant saying that Malik was upset with the media painting a “wrong and negative image of the state Covid’s response”, and Malik describing Sawant’s claims as “improper”.
Covid-19 cases have been increasing in Goa. On Thursday the number was 1,272, with at least 150 testing positive every day for the last four days. Hours before the Governor called a meeting with the CM to take stock of the situation on Wednesday, Sawant had announced a three-day lockdown ending Monday morning.
In the last 48 hours, the decision on the lockdown and its timing has been described by the opposition as “hasty” and “lacking imagination”.
On Thursday, when Sawant was asked by reporters about the review meeting at Raj Bhavan, he said, “The Governor is upset with the media’s negative coverage of the state’s Covid response. We told him about our efforts and he was satisfied.”
Malik later told reporters, “I have never said anything against the media. The truth is media is our strength. I get all my information through the media, through the press. I do not get any information from them (government).”
He added, “I cannot condemn (CM’s statement) with strong words, but this is highly improper and no civilised person should do or say so or put words in anyone’s mouth. I have been in public life for 50 years and never had any complaints with the media. In fact, I called for a meeting after I read about the state’s rising cases in the press.”
He said that while he was “not fully satisfied” with the way the state was managing the situation and that it had called a lockdown “very very late”, he said he was satisfied with “many other efforts”.
He said the need for a second Covid hospital in North Goa was discussed, with additional Covid care centres to be assigned across the state.
“There are shortcomings and they need to be corrected. Anyone who says everything is fine is not giving the correct picture. Nothing is always fine,” he said, alluding to the CM’s statement to the media.
“This should not be made a prestige issue. Let’s admit mistakes and let’s work together. I saw the synergy between the minister and officers were lacking and this crisis demands better synergy,” Malik said, adding that he didn’t call the meeting to scold anyone but to ensure he was getting correct information.
“I have to give correct information to the Prime Minister, Home Minister and these days this (Covid) information also has to be given to the office of the President. So my need for the meeting was to take stock and introduce corrections if needed. I have told them not to make an issue of it, and I will tell the press the same,” he said.
Narrating a few cases of employees who work in Raj Bhavan and reside in containment areas, he said he was forced to ask them to go on leave on full salary. “They pointed to problems of getting rations and lack of facilities for essential needs. When I brought this to the notice of the chief minister and officers, they admitted the problem exists. I get all such details on containment zones in press, not through them (government).”
“But the real issue I found serious was using co-morbidities as an excuse for deaths,” Malik said. “When a cancer patient goes to a hospital, they say go to a Covid hospital. When he goes to a Covid facility, then he is told of corona. Corona line of treatment is nothing but paracetamol. When any patient, including co-mordid cases, come to hospital then they should be given total, comprehensive treatment. Deaths are increasing and they cannot use co-morbidity as an excuse for increasing deaths.”
Goa has lost 19 patients, with the government pointing that everyone except one who came late to the hospital were suffering with co-morbid conditions.
“When I ask them, they say the cases are seen increasing because the tests are increasing. The truth is it is increasing in the country and the peak is yet to come. But that is not something to worry about and lockdowns will be successful if the society too works together and follows norms,” he said.
When the Governor’s response was relayed to the CM later in the evening, he told the media, “Whatever the Governor has said is right.”
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