Mangal Pandey. Image Courtesy: NDTV
Patna: On Monday, opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav demanded the resignation of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey for allegedly watching a TikTok video while attending a review meeting on the coronavirus in the state assembly.
“Bihar Health Minister Pandey is not serious at all about coronavirus. Pandey was busy watching a TikTok video while attending a review meeting on coronavirus in the state assembly. Why is Chief Minister Nitish Kumar not asking for the resignation of such a health minister who has no concern for coronavirus which is posing a serious threat?” Tejashwi said here.
Tejashwi further targeted BJP leaders including Pandey for violating guidelines issued by the State Government to prevent the virus from spreading. “I have stopped the Berojgari Hatao Yatra and suspended the party’s (RJD) executive meeting at Rajgir in Nalanda district. But, BJP leaders including ministers are busy inaugurating water parks. Pandey has been participating in BJP meetings. Are the government’s guidelines to tackle coronavirus only for opposition leaders? Why is Nitish Kumar not sacking such a Health Minister?” Tejashwi asked.
Tejashwi added that it was not the first time that Pandey had shown insensitivity towards his role as health minister. He recalled the time last year when Pandey was allegedly seen inquiring about the score of a World Cup cricket match while at a press conference by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in Muzaffarpur where nearly 100 children had died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
Following the incident, RJD leaders had said that Pandey was more interested to know the cricket score when Harsh Vardhan was addressing the media on how to control the situation after the outbreak of AES that claimed many children's lives. At the time, opposition leaders from other parties had also targeted Pandey.
Meanwhile, Bihar Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said that the ongoing Budget Session of the Bihar Legislative Assembly has been cut short and that there would be no further sittings after Monday in view of the coronavirus.
Last week, the State Government decided to shut down schools, colleges, coaching centres, cinema halls, museums, zoos and parks till March 31 in view of rising coronavirus cases.
The government also cancelled events related to Bihar Diwas celebrations on March 22.There will be no public celebrations during the period.
It was decided that government employees will attend office on alternate days to ensure functioning of offices and to minimise crowds.
Earlier, the government had decided to shut down all 1.14 lakh Anganwadi Kendras in the state.
According to an official release, no confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported in Bihar. However, 60 suspected cases have been detected till date, and some among those that are suspected have been under treatment at hospitals.
The state government has tightened vigilance on seven districts that share a border with Nepal.
Amid fears surrounding the coronavirus, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked people not to spread panic and ordered to withdraw the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC that was imposed in 11 districts by the administration.
Nitish Kumar made it clear to concerned officials to not spread panic about the coronavirus and ordered the state D.G.P. and Chief Secretary to immediately withdraw Section 144 imposed in some districts by the administration as it creates more panic among the common people.
Nitish Kumar also expressed his surprise over use of masks by a large number of people including government officials. He also objected to distribution of masks among members of Bihar Legislative Assembly on Monday. “Such things only scare people,” he said.
He also asked the health minister to ensure that panic should not be spread about coronavirus “The government should ensure that a sense of panic is not created,” he added.
He said the government is doing everything in its power for awareness and taking precautionary measures, appealing to people to take precautions but not panic.
According to health department officials, all concerned district officers have been asked to be on alert and speed up awareness campaigns about coronavirus among people. All hospitals have also been instructed to prepare to deal with any situation.