NEW DELHI: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today accused the central government of "condemning" thousands of people to death due to poor health care system in the country. He blamed the BJP-led NDA for the state of affairs in the public health care system and said ever since it came to power it has reduced the budget for the sector.
"The current government really does not care about health care in the country. That is a fact," he said in a video message in the wake of the deaths of several children in various state-run hospitals. Gandhi said there is a view in the government, in fact among people, particularly those affluent, that the Indian health care system can be run by private hospitals. "This is simply a lie," he said, adding, "in a country like India, where most people are poor, one simply cannot do without a public health care system. You simply cannot do away with public hospitals that are effective and efficient. This just will not work." "You are condemning thousands and thousands of people to death because you do not have a public health care system that works," he said in the video message, posted on his official Twitter handle.
Gandhi also accused the government of spending nowhere near the amount of money required in the sector and said when the Congress-led UPA was in power it spent a lot more to improve the public health care system. He said every time he has been to Gorakhpur was due to encephalitis problem and categorically told Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the press that there was a problem developing in the hospital, as everybody, including doctors and patients, were complaining. He was apparently referring to the BRD Hospital in Gorakhpur, where several children had died in August.
Responding to criticism by the BJP that he went on a "picnic" when he visited the victims, Gandhi said, "The people who say this, that is how they conceptualise it for themselves. They view any show of empathy, any attempt at understanding people's pain, any attempt at trying to hold hands as a cynical exercise. That is how they think, that is their mind." He said for him, as a political leader, visiting Gorakhpur when it was in pain, visiting the victim families was an extremely powerful experience. "I was able to hold their hand and tell them that I am here with you. Much more importantly, they were able to tell me what they faced and they were able to explain to me that the government of India has let them down," he said.