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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

Covid: BJP MP has time to play communal tricks

The lawmakers led by party hawk Tejasvi Surya are insinuating that Muslims recruited by the civic authorities were accepting bribes to allocate beds in designated Bangalore hospitals

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 06.05.21, 01:12 AM
Tejasvi Surya

Tejasvi Surya Sourced by The Telegraph

Three BJP lawmakers led by party hawk Tejasvi Surya have found a new way of using the Covid crisis to promote communal hatred, insinuating that Muslims recruited by the civic authorities were accepting bribes to allocate beds in designated Bangalore hospitals.

Surya, Bangalore South MP and BJP Yuva Morcha national president, led a campaign on Tuesday to “expose” the alleged scam by some helpline assistants in the corporation’s war room who had been hired temporarily to allocate Covid beds.

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But of the 205 such personnel, he named only 16, all of whom appeared to be Muslims.

In a video clip that emerged on Wednesday, Surya and MLAs Ravi Subramanya (Surya’s uncle) and Satish Reddy can be seen purportedly questioning officials in a Covid war room in the city.

“Who are these people?” Surya appears to be shouting after reading out a few Muslim-sounding names.

When an official says the personnel were hired by an agency, Surya purportedly yells: “Which agency? Call the agency people.”

Subramanya then appears to shout: “Did you make the appointments for a madrasa or a corporation?”

Surya had on Tuesday told a news conference that Covid beds were being sold against huge bribes in Bangalore —sometimes after having been allocated to a different patient — while the government’s web portal continued to show beds as unavailable throughout. He alleged that some of the corporation’s helpline assistants were in cahoots with touts outside.

The 16 names Surya mentioned found their way to social media platforms, where those named came under attack as “terrorists” engaged in destroying the bed-allocation system.

Bangalore police, who said they would probe Surya’s allegation, arrested two people on Tuesday on the charge of taking bribes of up to Rs 50,000 to arrange Covid beds with oxygen facilities, including ICU beds.

However, none from the 16 Surya had named had been booked till Wednesday night.

The two arrested suspects are a woman named Netra and a man named Rohit. It’s unclear whether they are accused of being touts or civic staff — their names don’t figure among the 205 helpline assistants in the corporation’s Covid war room.

The Congress lambasted Surya and the two other lawmakers for singling out people from one community as perpetrators of the scam.

“This is nothing but hate-mongering just because they are Muslims,” party spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa told a news conference on Wednesday. “First, Surya should ask his chief minister if he thinks there is a scam in bed allocation. The BJP rules the state and the corporation.”

Kalappa accused Surya of trying to deflect public attention from the 24 deaths caused by oxygen shortage in Chamrajnagar, about 175km from here.

BJP leaders had tried to demonise Muslims in connection with the pandemic earlier too, blaming Covid’s first wave in the country on a mid-March congregation in Delhi last year and accusing minority vendors of spitting on vegetables before selling them to spread the infection.

Surya is known for badmouthing Muslims. During the agitation against the new citizenship matrix in December 2019, he had described the protesters as “puncture-wallahs” — an allusion to many poor Muslims’ occupation of fixing flat tyres.

He had berated secularism as a “namby-pamby” ideology.

“This is a new India we are creating. The namby-pamby secularism you people have built so far will not work any more,” he had said.

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