Patna, Aug. 12: New health minister Mangal Pandey had deputed four government doctors at his official residence (near Chitkohra bridge) for five days, a step similar to one for which his predecessor Tej Pratap had drawn flak.
Tej Pratap had deputed government doctors at his mother Rabri Devi's official residence for over a week.
Earlier in the day, RJD chief and Tej Pratap's father Lalu Prasad flaunted a letter related to the state government notification allowing deputation of government doctors at new health minister Mangal Pandey's residence. He said Pandey should be immediately removed from the Nitish Kumar-led cabinet.
" Naye swasthya mantri permanent bimar lagte hain. Nikat bhavishya mein unke swasthya sudhaar ki ummeed nahi dikhti hai. Unhe PMCH mein bharti hoke apna check-up karwana chahiye (The new health minister seems to be permanently ill. His health condition is not expected to get better in the near future. He should get himself admitted to PMCH for a proper check-up," said Lalu.
Former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav also took a dig at Pandey. "Nitish ji ka hazaron crore ka Srijan mahila ghotala ujagar hone ke baad swasthyamantriji ki haalat itni bigar gayi ki ghar par 4-4 doctors ki tainati kar li (The health minister's condition worsened so much after the Srijan scam worth thousand crores was revealed that he had to depute 4 doctors at his residence," Tejashwi tweeted.
According to the letter issued by additional secretary to Government of Bihar, Ravindra Yadav, on August 1, four government doctors - Krishna Mohan Purbey, Nand Kumar Mishra, Narendra Bhushan and Nageshwar Prasad - were deputed at Pandey's residence. Purbey and Mishra are supposed to be there Monday to Saturday from 9am to 3.30pm and from 3.30pm to 10pm. The other two doctors were asked to be there on Sunday. In case of failure of any two doctors, the remaining two doctors were supposed to fill in for them, said the letter, a copy of which is with The Telegraph.
Health Minister Mangal Pandey, however, denied claims the doctors were deputed at his house for his personal benefit. He said he had deputed them for the sake of people who visit him.
"Soon after I took over as health minister, people began swarming my official residence," Pandey said. "Neither I nor any relative of mine lives there. I use the premises as my office, as my aides live there. A lot of people come to me there with complaints of unavailability of drugs or queries vis-à-vis specific treatment. My office is not equipped to help these people. So, after contacting department officials, we decided to deploy doctors at my official residence. I hadn't deployed them for my personal use. It was for the people," said Pandey. He said he let the doctors off after five days after he found his office was ready to help people.
A section of doctors criticised Pandey's move.
Cardiologist and former president Indian Medical Association's state chapter, Basant Singh, said it amounted to misuse of human resources. "The new health minister should realise the doctor crisis in all government-run health facilities," Singh said.
"When government hospitals are facing a serious doctor crisis, such a step for a certain individual is not all right on moral grounds. If the health minister, a family member or someone from his constituency is ill, the minister can take that person to PMCH or any other government hospital. Aspatal minister ke ghar kyun pahunchega (Why would a hospital reach a minister's residence."