May 4, 2017 2:07:34 am
Thirty-five years after then prime minister Indira Gandhi laid its foundation stone, the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Amethi has run into controversy over the way its guesthouse is allegedly being used. District magistrate Yogesh Kumar said he had sent a subdivisional magistrate to the guesthouse following complaints from “various sources”.
The land had been leased by the UP government for a hospital to be run on charity, local BJP leaders said, alleging that rules are being flouted by members of the Gandhi family who stay over at the guesthouse and by the Congress which holds political meetings there when Rahul Gandhi is in Amethi, his Lok Sabha constituency. Whenever Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi visits Amethi, local Congress leaders know they can find them at “Mushiganj guesthouse”, as they call it.
The DM said the SDM is yet to submit his report on how the guesthouse is being used. “Complaints had come from various sources and I had sent the SDM who asked them [representatives of the trustees] to submit papers regarding the land and how it reached them. They were not able to give papers at that time and had sought some more time. In the meantime, I have been informed that the guesthouse has been vacated. But we will have to check the status,” Yogesh Kumar told The Indian Express.
BJP district unit head Uma Shankar Pandey brought up the matter a month after the BJP came to power in UP, saying the land had been given to Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Trust on lease by the state government in 1981 to open a hospital for charity. “We have raised three issues. First, the guesthouse of the hospital, whose land was given by government on lease to work for charity, cannot be used by any political party. Second, if the purpose of the hospital was to work for charity, then why was it given to a private health organisation a few years ago? And why are concessions at the hospital given to a select few?” Pandey said.
“We have also demanded that rates at this hospital should be controlled by the chief medical officer of Amethi.”
Pandey said he had taken up the issue with Union minister Smriti Irani during her visit to Amethi last month and claimed she then took it up with the chief minister’s office. The district magistrate, however, denied there had been any intervention from the CMO. He said the action was taken to look into the status of the guesthouse’s use following complaints at district level, and added the SDM’s report would make things clear.
The Congress denied the BJP’s allegations. “They want to create hurdles, that’s all,” said Chandrakant Dubey, Rahul’s representative in Amethi. “We have never used the guesthouse for political purposes. The Congress vice-president [Rahul] used to stay there as a trustee of the trust and people used to come to meet him as he is also the MP. There has never been any Congress flag on the campus, nor has any slogans ever been raised in favour of the Congress in the premises.”
He said the Congress has 16 offices in Amethi as well as a district office in Gauriganj, and so does not need any guesthouse to hold political meetings. Asked about the allegation about a private health agency, Dubey said, “It has been given to the agency just because they have expertise in the field.”
Irani, meanwhile, tweeted Tuesday evening: “Glad that someone in UP took into account representations of people of Amethi and ensured rightful use of hospital guest house. Despite being aware of the fact that hospital cannot be usurped for political activity, Congress leader continued to do so. After 3 years of persistent efforts, Hospital Guest House in Amethi that was used by Congress leader for political purpose is finally vacated.”
Sonia Gandhi is chairperson of the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Trust, which runs the hospital. The trustees include Rahul Gandhi and Captain Satish Sharma while senior Congress leader Motilal Vora is secretary of the trust and Manoj Muttu is its administrator.
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