Bihar Children Deaths a National Horror Story; Centre, State Govt Responsible: Congress
New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday described the deaths of children in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome as a "national horror story" and demanded accountability from the Centre and the state government.
Addressing a press conference here, party spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi accused the two governments of being "insensitive" and unprepared for tackling such an outbreak. "It is a national tragedy, it is a national horror story and the perpetrators of this horror story are the Centre and the state government," he said.
"We demand accountability from both the State and the Centre," he said, while attacking Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and his predecessor JP Nadda. Gogoi said Nadda should concede that promises made by him as health minister have not been fulfilled.
The Congress leader also demanded coordination between the Centre and the state governments to deal with the situation. "The Congress prays for the families of 146 children and we cannot either express in words or feel the emotions of those parents who have lost their children," he said.
Gogoi said it was a sorry state of affairs and the state government in Bihar had been both unprepared and insensitive. "We can see the insensitivity in the remarks of the state health minister, when he is asking for cricket score in the middle of an important meeting; we can see the insensitivity in the chief minister's (Nitish Kumar) delayed visit to the hospital and unfortunately, this attitude has been replicated by the Central government because we have seen that over the past so many years when either Harsh Vardhanji or JP Naddaji was the health minister, they merely announced on paper, but, there was no action on the ground," he said.
Gogoi said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked of India being the fastest growing economy in the world, the reality was that these children had died in Muzaffarpur due to deficient health infrastructure. "We urge the Centre to work with the state government. They should identify those districts, prepare those hospitals in advance, and look at the primary health care instead of merely announcing 'Ayushman Bharat'.
"They should ensure that people get the due healthcare. It has been cited in many technical reports that the underlying cause for so many deaths is acute hunger and malnutrition. Surely, we all can put our heads and minds together, we can solve this and we urge the newly elected government to take this seriously and prepare a national action programme," he said.