Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tried reaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir, a drug for Covid-19 treatment, but was told he was on a visit to poll-bound West Bengal, state’s minority affairs minister Nawab Malik claimed on Saturday. “Chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) is trying to contact PM Modi on phone over shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir and he was informed that the Prime Minister is on Bengal tour,” Nawab Malik said and accused Modi of being busy in elections while “people are dying.”
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Nawab Malik’s attack comes at a time when political parties in West Bengal have been holding public rallies with large gatherings with each party training guns at the other over the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the state.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), however, refuted Malik’s allegation saying PM Modi himself reviewed the state of oxygen supply on Friday amid surging Covid-19 cases and that the government is in constant touch with the state governments.
Soon after reports of the Prime Minister’s alleged unavailability for Uddhav Thackeray’s call, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien took to Twitter to take potshots at Modi. “#SHOCKER Maharashtra CM @OfficeofUT called Modi requesting for urgent supply of oxygen for his State. Was informed that PM busy campaigning in Bengal. Will respond on his return,” O’Brien posted on Twitter.
Maharashtra is currently the worst Covid-19 affected state in the country. Despite strict restrictions in place, the western state reported 63,729 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, which has taken the state’s infection tally past 3.7 million. As many as 398 fatalities due to the viral disease were also recorded on Friday and now the state’s death toll stands at 59,551.
On Friday, PM Modi held a comprehensive review meeting over the current situation of oxygen supply and the projected use in the coming fortnight across 12 high burden states – Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
The meeting came against the backdrop of the second wave of Covid-19 infections in the country amid reports that people are losing their lives due to a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds. PM Modi was briefed about the country’s production capacity to meet the rising demand for oxygen and he has asked the oxygen units to increase their production, his office said in a statement.