A week after the trust vote was won by the Ashok Gehlot government, the Assembly reconvened here on Friday to debate the Covid-19 management in the state as well as the economic situation due to lockdown. Health Minister Raghu Sharma opened the debate and spoke on the efforts made by the state government, and around two dozen MLAs spoke on the issue as the Assembly went on till evening, before being adjourned till Monday.
Nine Bills were also introduced in the Assembly but could not be discussed as the Covid debate took up the entire day.
Speaking after Sharma’s opening remarks, former Health Minister and BJP leader Kalicharan Saraf said, “We had said that we will rise above politics and come together to tackle corona together, and the Chief Minister tried to portray that he has fought corona keeping political differences aside. But sadly, there has been ‘Congressisation’ of the relief efforts, be it distribution of ration kits, of food packets, or sanitisation activities.”
He said that whenever there’s a calamity, civil defence personnel are employed to distribute relief kits. “However, for the first time, Jaipur Municipal Corporation personnel were employed,” he said, and alleged that the ration kits “were distributed by Congress MLAs in their constituencies, and where there was no Congress MLA, it was distributed by their workers. While we (BJP MLAs) were told we cannot distribute it and that officials will distribute it instead”.
The ruling party shot back, with senior minister Shanti Dhariwal accusing the BJP leader of lying. “They (BJP MLAs) gave a list of names and said that the kits should be distributed only to these persons. I will present those slips in the Assembly,” he said.
As Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas and Leader of the Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria and others had a heated exchange, Chairperson Rajendra Pareek adjourned the House for half an hour.
When the House convened, the MLAs again had a heated exchange and the Chairperson adjourned the House for 15 minutes, and then once again for about an hour. When the session resumed at 2 pm, Pareek expunged all the statements and claims that had been made by the ruling party and the Opposition.
Saraf then said that 3,500 doctors’ posts are vacant across the state and that private hospitals are charging excessive amounts to treat patients. Congress MLA Jitendra Singh termed Covid-19 as “World War Three” while his party colleague Ramnarain Meena said that a “lack of assistance” from Centre “goes against the federal structure of the country”.
BJP’s Kataria emphasised the need to focus on taking away the “mental tension” from patients and health personnel. He said if the mental burden is relieved, “then your arrangements will be more effective”.
BJP MLA Anita Bhadel said that she and Health Minister Sharma have been elected from the same district, yet conditions in Ajmer are very poor. She said that patients are admitted only after “sifarish” (recommendation) while private hospitals in the district have stopped admitted patients for treatment of other diseases.
Congress MLA Divya Maderna said that former party president Rahul Gandhi had warned about the virus back in February, “but CAA, NRC, etc were your priority. Delhi was burning, so you didn’t focus on the virus.”
The Assembly also witnessed heated exchanges when Congress MLA Rafeek Khan accused the Central government of being busy with hosting US President Donald Trump and ignoring the Covid-19 situation. As he spoke, BJP MLAs yelled ‘Tablighi’ as a jibe. Sharma asked the BJP to “keep your communal angle out of this”.
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