New Delhi, Sept. 29: When Sonia Gandhi chairs a meeting of the national advisory council tomorrow, the exercise may acquire a momentum of its own because one person will be under the scanner, though indirectly: Anbumani Ramadoss.
The health minister’s team is expected to make a presentation on the UPA’s rural health care mission, showcased as a major policy proclamation in the social sector.
NAC members involved with the health sector voiced unhappiness with the “tardy” pace at which the project is being implemented.
“Nine months down the line, there is little or nothing to show. What is the point in announcing it has got going in seven districts' All that the government has to show are full page ads with the minister’s mug,” a member said.
The NAC has also taken note of the health ministry’s “slow reflexes” in dealing with the encephalitis outbreak in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The Centre, too, is not too happy with Ramadoss. The perception is he acted only after Rahul Gandhi visited Gorakhpur and suggested fogging mosquito-infested areas.
Another sore-point with the Congress is the way in which Ramadoss allowed himself to be drawn into the vortex of Uttar Pradesh power politics.
The Congress is reportedly miffed with Mulayam Singh Yadav for rebuffing Rahul’s suggestion on grounds that carrier mosquitoes fed on pigs and are immune to most chemicals and pesticides. The chief minister’s other plea was that aerial spraying will damage crops.
When Ramadoss finally landed to take stock of the epidemic in a helicopter, he was accompanied by Mulayam Singh’s confidant Amar Singh, red rag to the Congress. Samajwadi Party sources said Ramadoss was “duty-bound” to take him along as he is a member of the parliamentary standing committee on health.
To cut his losses, Ramadoss exhibited his health power point presentation to the Prime Minister at 7 Race Course Road before unveiling it before Sonia and the NAC.
The NAC has told the Centre that in keeping with the common minimum programme, there should be increased public spending on health; focus on primary health; a national insurance scheme for poor families; increased investment on communicable diseases, including AIDS; accent on family welfare programmes integrated with reproductive and child health; and overall health care delivery.
Ramadoss will make a separate presentation on AIDS control.
The NAC will also discuss the unorganised workers’ social security bill, which proposes to build a social security system for unorganised workers.
It re-defines “worker” to include those who do not have a fixed employer and brings self-employed, casual, contract and house-based workers within its ambit.