As the nation continues to deal with the shock of the death of over 70 children in BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, an issue being raised is whether Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had discussed the issue of poor health and encephalitis earlier as a Member of Parliament.
On Monday, former Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had accused Adityanath of not taking any step as an MP of Gorakhpur to get the central aid to improve facilities at the BRD medical college hospital.
Azad was responding to Adityanath's allegation that "when Azad was Union health minister, he had said he cannot do anything (about Japanese Encephalitis in Gorakhpur) since health is a state subject."
The Congress leader had said that he had never seen Adityanath during his tenure in the Health Ministry in the previous UPA government.
The truth is that Adityanath had, in fact, raised the issue of deaths due to encephalitis several times in the Parliament earlier.
However, this raises the question of why Adityanath as chief minister could not do much about the issues he himself had raised as an MP.
According to PRS Legislative Research, out of the 57 debates which MP Adityanath had taken part in, three were related to encephalitis.
In 2011, when UPA was in power, Adityanath in a speech in Lok Sabha on encephalitis and brain fever had been especially critical of the Central government. "I have been raising this issue many times but the government has done little... Don't the innocent people of eastern Uttar Pradesh have the right to live a healthy life?" he had asked.
On 4 August, 2014, he had taken part in a debate on the situation arising out of spread of encephalitis in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Then, on 22 December that year, he had again raised this issue.
As MP, the last time he raised this issue was on 11 August, 2016.
When he had spoken on the issue in 2016, Adityanath had expressed astonishment on how the "graph of deaths" because of encephalitis had constantly been rising. He had also criticised the then state government in Uttar Pradesh for not doing enough against the disease. Adityanath had compared the way the then government was dealing with encephalitis to people dying of thirst in a specific place and the government building wells for water at other places instead.
He had also spoken of the high number of encephalitis cases and deaths because of the same in BRD Medical College.
Adityanath had also raised the issue of encephalitis in his farewell speech in Lok Sabha in March this year. He had said that he had been consistenly raising this issue in the Parliament but "those who keep on talking of Dalit and Muslim communities did not bother to do anything to fight the disease".
An article in The Indian Express also pointed out that Adityanath, as MP, had raised the issue of death of children in Gorakhpur at least 20 times between 2003 and 2014. He had talked about the poor quality of infrastructure at the BRD Medical College, the need of an AIIMS in Gorakhpur, importance of vaccination and the lack of involvement from the Centre and the then state government.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 15, 2017 13:15 PM