The Telegraph
Thursday , July 10 , 2014
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Lens on NDA drug purchase

Patna, July 9: Under attack from the BJP over the “drug scam”, the state government is toying with the idea of probing the purchase of medicines right from 2005 when the NDA came to power.

“We are considering RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui’s proposal to probe purchase of drugs right from 2005,” chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi told The Telegraph at his office in the Assembly.

Stressing he did not understand what the BJP was talking about, he said: “We have ordered a probe and I am ready to ask the commissioner of Bhagalpur to probe the death of one person allegedly after he was injected a sub-standard drug.”

The BJP is alleging a Rs 100-crore-scam in purchase of medicines from blacklisted firms. The party has raised the matter in both legislative houses, hoping to dent former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s clean image.

The drugs, procured at exorbitant rates when former chief minister Nitish Kumar held the health portfolio, were found to be sub-standard. At a news meet on Tuesday, the health department declared there was no mechanism by which they would have known that these pharmaceutical companies were blacklisted in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Kerala.

Ordering a probe from 2005 would bring three BJP ministers in the ambit. During the time the BJP and JDU were in alliance, the health department portfolio was held by the BJP. Chandra Mohan Rai, Nand Kishore Yadav and Ashwani Kumar Choubey were health ministers at different times from November 2005 to June 2013 when the alliance broke down.

There was pandemonium in the Assembly for the third consecutive day on Wednesday. JDU and BJP MLAs rushed to the well of the House, over recovery of astronomical riches after a theft at Giriraj Singh’s house and the issue of police firing in Rohtas. Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary tried to break the deadlock by holding a meeting of all leaders in his chamber.

After the meeting, JDU MLAs did not enter the well of the House. But the BJP MLAs continued to disrupt proceedings, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House. The food and consumer affairs department’s budgetary demand to the tune of over Rs 1,700 crore for 2014-15 was passed without a debate.

“We have decided not to go into the floor of the House. We did it for two days because the prestige of Bihar was at the stake,” said parliamentary affairs minister Srawan Kumar. He justified JDU MLAs’ protest against Haryana BJP leader O.P. Dhankar’s statement promising brides from Bihar if the BJP came to power there. BJP leaders pointed out this was the first time when ruling party MLAs were blocking proceedings in the Bihar legislative houses.

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