The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Sunday accused the BJP of trying to ensure Maharashtra does not get Remdesivir stock, and wondered why state BJP leaders got scared when Mumbai police questioned the director of a Daman-based company manufacturing the drug used for treating COVID-19 patients.
Referring to the appearance of top Maharashtra BJP leaders late Saturday night at the BKC police station after the pharma firm director was grilled, state minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said "something is fishy".
Remdesivir is listed for use in serious COVID-19 patients. In view of a sudden spike in demand of the drug due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Centre last week banned its export till the situation improves.
The police on Saturday questioned Rajesh Dokania, director of Brucke Pharma, a Daman-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company that manufactures Remdesivir vials, following information that thousands of vials of the drug to be flown out of the country, an official said.
The opposition BJP in Maharashtra objected to the pharma executive's grilling by Mumbai police, saying the state government was playing politics amid the pandemic.
It now appears that the stock had been arranged by the BJP for distribution in Maharashtra.
On learning that Mr Dokania was being questioned, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis and LoP in the Council Praveen Darekar rushed to the police station.
Talking to reporters on Sunday, Nawab Malik said "when two leaders of opposition and two legislators go to the police station late in the night after detention of Dokania, something is fishy".
"The BJP is trying to ensure that Maharashtra doesn't get its stock of Remdesivir," alleged Malik, whose party shares power in the state with the Shiv Sena and Congress.
Why did the state BJP leaders get scared? The BJP leaders should explain to the people of Maharashtra why they were "favouring" Dokania, he said.
Mr Malik also said that after the Centre banned the export of Remdesivir, Mr Dokania had approached the Maharashtra government and sought permission to sell it in the state.
State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Minister Rajesh Shingane had met Mr Dokania along with Mr Darekar, he said.
Mr Malik said when the police got information that there was Remdesivir stock with the company, Mr Dokania was called for questioning. But, Mr Fadnavis and Mr Darekar along with two BJP legislators Prasad Lad and Parag Alavani reached there.
"Why did they have to do this?" Mr Malik asked.
"When Dokania showed papers that the FDA permission was given for selling the medicine, he was let off. BJP leaders should clarify what is their link with Dokania," he said.
Meanwhile, state NCP chief and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil in a tweet said, "With shortage of #Remdesivir, last night @MumbaiPolice rightly fulfilled their duty to check any supply malpractices/hoarding."
"The real Q is: Can any BJP leader, without any info to State govt/Local authorities/Police, procure lakhs of lifesaving drugs @PMOIndia. It's a new low," he added.