In a sharp attack on the BJP-led central government's handling of the pandemic, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien hit out at Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for only congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the lockdown and ignoring state governments and frontline Covid warriors, many of whom lost their lives, on their fight against the coronavirus.
He further accused the centre of not preparing for the lockdown, but making elaborate arrangements for US President Donald Trump's India visit in February - a month since India reported its first COVID-19 case.
"You didn't do any preparation (for fighting coronavirus), you did preparation when Trump came. What were you doing? You were giving Trump laddus, you were giving him dhokla. That is the time when you announced this lockdown," said Mr O'Brien - among the five MPs evicted from the Parliament on March 18 for wearing a mask.
Talking to mediapersons outside the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha MP asked why Dr Vardhan didn't congratulate "the doctors, healthcare workers, nurses, the police, ward boys, sweepers".
"So many of them lost their lives. He couldn't be a little generous and congratulate them? Or condole those who have lost their lives? Tomorrow we will ask these questions. The problem is they do not have any answers," Mr O'Brien said, accusing the BJP-led central government of "doing damage-control" by not answering questions on the crisis.
"India's first case was reported on January 30. When the lockdown was announced, we had 600 cases per day, now we have one lakh cases per day. What are you (central government) asking us to do? To bang plates...light diyas," he said.
He added that the government also did not take states in confidence before announcing the lockdown.
"You said you spoke to chief ministers (about coronavirus fight). What did you write to Chief Ministers before the lockdown? Not one meeting...you said you had 45 video conferences. How many of those were before the lockdown?" he said.
Out of Rs 100 spent on health, the state governments give Rs 65 and the Centre Rs 35, yet the state governments "get no thank you" for their work, Mr O'Brien said.