Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's sharp criticism of the Centre's statement on "no deaths due to lack of oxygen" provoked return fire today from the BJP, which accused him of "fake anguish" and "shameless politics". The BJP said the Centre had relied on information forwarded by the Maharashtra government, which had told the Bombay High Court that no patient had died of oxygen shortage in the state during the second wave of Covid.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope did no favours to Mr Raut, his ally, as he was quoted as telling a news channel that his government had indeed "never reported any death due to shortage of oxygen".
"We never said people died due to oxygen shortage in the state. Many of them had issues like co-morbidities and other illnesses. No death has taken place due to the shortage of oxygen," Mr Tope was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India.
In April, 22 patients died after oxygen supply was disrupted at a Nashik hospital due to a leak at an oxygen storage plant. Mr Tope had then talked about an inquiry into possible negligence.
The BJP slammed Mr Raut, accusing him of hypocrisy when his own government had said what the Centre told parliament.
"Mr Sanjay Raut I am aghast at the double-speak of double defaulters, Shiv Sena and Congress. Pleases provide the number of deaths in the state of Maharashtra due to Oxygen shortage to the central government and also to the press. Same logic applies to Delhi state which was the epicenter," Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi said.
The party also underlined its point in tweets.
"See how Hippocratic (sic) and shameless Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is. In May 2021 Thackeray government had submitted a report to the Bombay High Court and claimed, no patient died due to shortage of oxygen. Centre prepared its report on basis of information forwarded by state government," the BJP tweeted.
"Now reacting on this report Sanjay Raut express his fake anguish and said, he was speechless and case should be filed against Centre government for this claim. His statements once again exposed shameless politics of MVA government, precisely Shiv Sena," the party added.
See how Hippocratic & shamelss @ShivSena leader @rautsanjay61 is. In May 2021 Thakrey government had submitted a report to Bombay highcourt and claimed, no patient died due to shortage of oxygen. Centre prepared it's report on basis of information forwarded by state government. pic.twitter.com/6a76IlVhA7— BJP Mumbai (@BJP4Mumbai) July 21, 2021
Now Reacting on this report Sanjay Raut express his fake anguish and said, he was speechless and case should be filed against Centre government for this claim. His statements once again exposed shameless politics of MVA government, precisely Shivsena.— BJP Mumbai (@BJP4Mumbai) July 21, 2021
There is a huge political backlash over the government saying in parliament that no deaths due to lack of oxygen were specifically reported by states and Union Territories during the second Covid surge.
In a written reply to Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Junior Health Minister Bharati Praveen Pawar said health is a state subject and states and union territories regularly report the number of cases and deaths to the Centre. "However, no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states and UTs," added Ms Pawar, responding to the question on whether Covid patients died on roads and in hospitals due to oxygen shortage.
Mr Raut said people who lost relatives to oxygen shortage should take the central government to court. "I am speechless. For families who have lost their loved ones due to the shortage of medical oxygen, how would they've felt listening to this. These families should file a case against the government," he told reporters.
He had also said in parliament yesterday: "Many people have died due to oxygen shortage in several states. The Union government is running away from the truth. It seems it is the effect of Pegasus (Israeli spyware)."
Mr Raut, whose party Shiv Sena rules Maharashtra in a coalition with the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, said it was important to find out whether those whose relatives died gasping for oxygen agreed with the Centre.
The government also told parliament that there was an unprecedented surge in demand for medical oxygen during the April-May second wave.