MUMBAI: Describing the attitude of striking doctors as "adamant" and "insensitive", Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today warned of legal action and gave them an ultimatum to resume duties after his meet with their representatives later this afternoon.
Making a statement in the Legislative Assembly, Fadnavis said, "Enough is enough. If the doctors fail to resume work today, government will not sit quietly. We cannot leave the patients to die. I am making a final attempt to break the deadlock today by meeting the doctors' representatives. If no solution is found and doctors don't resume work, they should be prepared to face legal action."
Fadnavis said he failed to understand the "insensitive" attitude of doctors of leaving patients to die. "What is the difference between anti-social tendencies who beat up doctors and the doctors themselves who take oath to treat ill people. I am surprised at the adamant stand of the doctors despite assuring that the government fully supports their demand," he said adding that the doctors have disregarded the directives of the High Court.
"People consider doctors to be like a God. They shouldn't wait to be referred to as demons. What kind of politics is being done," he asked. Fadnavis said among their demands that have been accepted, include security audit of hospitals and access control to OPD, casualty and other wards. The demand for armed security guards has also been accepted. He also said that government has promised free legal and medical aid to doctors in case of an attack and they will be treated as government servants. Maharashtra Medical Education minister Girish Mahajan too warned the resident doctors to withdraw their agitation and resume work or face stern action.
The issue came up in the State Legislative Assembly after the Question Hour when Pratap Sarnaik (Shiv Sena) highlighted the problems faced by patients due to the strike which entered the fifth day today. Mahajan said despite the High Court directive and appeal by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the doctors have not yielded.
"They have taken in writing from us that we are accepting their ten demands which include providing 1,100 security guards. These guards will be hired from private agencies run by former police officials at a salary of Rs 20,000 each. The government has sanctioned Rs 33 crore for the purpose," he said.
"The doctors tell us they are satisfied with our approach and then go out and tell that they will continue with their agitation. This is getting out of hand and the government is feeling helpless. We don't understand what we should do. The government once again appeals to the doctors to withdraw their strike and resume work, otherwise strict action will have to be taken," the minister added.
Yogesh Sagar of BJP said the government should give an ultimatum to doctors and cancel their registration and file cases against them if they fail to resume work in a day's time. The demand was supported by other BJP and Sena members. Sagar said prior surgeries are being indefinitely postponed due to the strike and the patients are facing a harrowing time. Sena and BJP members came into the Well of the House demanding that strict action be taken against striking doctors.
Subsequently, Speaker Haribhau Bagde adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes. After the House re-assembled, Speaker said the issue is about an organised sector holding the unorganised section of the society to ransom and the sentiment of the House is that the government should find a solution to this.
The Sena-BJP members again trooped into the Well forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for 30 minutes. The entire Opposition benches were empty since they are protesting the suspension of 19 Congress-NCP MLAs for disrupting the Budget presentation last week.
Nearly 4,000 resident doctors have stayed away from work since Monday, demanding enhanced security in the wake of a string of attacks on their colleagues by patients' relatives at government hospitals across the state.