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Punjab V-C row: Incident could have been avoided, says AAP spokesperson

Dignity of the chair should be maintained and our conduct in public should be well disciplined, says AAP spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang, a day after a controversy broke out over Punjab Health Minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra asking VC Dr Raj Bahadur to lie down on a damaged mattress at a Faridkot hospital.

punjab rowVideograb of Dr Raj Bahadur on the hospital bed.

In its first reaction to the row involving Punjab Health Minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra and Dr Raj Bahadur, the vice-chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) who has since resigned, the Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday defended its minister but said that the “dignity of the chair should be maintained” and the incident “could have been avoided”.

AAP spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang said that the health system in the state was in shambles and the health minister was making personal visits to hospitals to get first-hand information. “Jouramajra is working hard and is personally visiting many hospitals to see the discrepancies. However, that one incident that happened should have been avoided. I find it very unfortunate and strongly feel that the dignity of the chair should be maintained. Our conduct in public should be well disciplined,” Kang said.

On Friday, during an inspection at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital (GGSMCH) in Faridkot, Jouramajra had forced Dr Bahadur to lie down on a damaged mattress in front of staff and patients. The incident drew widespread condemnation with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) calling it “humiliating”.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Kang said it was “a spur of the moment” incident. Regarding Dr Bahadur’s resignation, he said the decision lies in the hands of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann now. “I think he has already spoken to the health minister on this issue and has sought a report on the entire episode. The health minister has told him about the state of affairs in the hospital,” he said.

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Two doctors have requested that they be relieved of their charge as principal-director and medical superintendent and Dr Bahadur’s personal assistant has resigned. “I can’t say anything on the rest of the resignations…the department concerned is to oversee everything ,” Kang said.

Kang pointed out that in the past, several scams have taken place in the name of providing infrastructure in hospitals. “Urgent attention is needed in the health sector” and the AAP was looking to “improve the conditions for the patients”, he said.

Kang added that Jouramajra had spoken to many patients at GGSMCH and they gave feedback about the state of affairs at the hospital. “There were incidents where patients spoke about the arrogant behaviour of senior doctors, and even the VC himself, whose office is in Faridkot,” Kang said.

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Ground zero reports are a must, Kang said, but added that such incidents should not happen in the future. “This trend should not continue and our focus should be on improvement of services…Discipline is of utmost importance in public life,” he added. Everything needs to be set in order, but with discipline, said Kang.

Addressing the media on Saturday, Kang showed pictures of the bed on which Jouramajra had forced Dr Bahadur to lie down on. “This was the bed in the Skin and VD Department. You can imagine what kind of facilities the people were getting,” he said.

At the same time, Kang added, “We hold doctors in high esteem. They are honourable…the minister’s intent was not to insult anyone but to help the poor get better healthcare facilities. We respect Dr Raj Bahadur. I know him personally. The health minister’s intent was not to humiliate him. Our mission is only to help the poor.”

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The spokesperson also said that they will “bring out who is responsible for the poor state of affairs in the health department. It is not that the health minister only visited Faridkot, he went to Bathinda and praised the arrangement there.”

Kang also took on the Opposition saying, “The Opposition does not raise a shindig when a poor man loses his family member due to want of health services or when scams come to the fore. If the health minister, under the leadership of the chief minister, goes on ground zero, then they raise questions.”

Commenting on the Opposition raising questions on Jouramajra’s educational qualifications, he said, “They are raising questions on the educational qualification of the health minister. They should tell us if the former health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu was an MBBS degree holder? What was the qualification of former health minister O P Soni?”

He also hit out at the Congress. “We plan to start mohalla clinics and Congress criticises us, asking us to first take care of the existing hospitals. When we take care of the hospitals, they further criticise us,” Kang said.

First published on: 30-07-2022 at 13:47 IST
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