PATNA: Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi demanded resignation of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, a BJP leader, due to his alleged failure to check the outbreak of brain fever which has claimed more than 150 lives.
Manjhi also asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who heads the JD(U) to resign, if he was unable to make Pandey quit his post.
"The opposition will be with you for taking such a stand," the former chief minister said while attending a demonstration to protest the state government's alleged failure to stop the outbreak of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
"I did not witness the shameful incident myself, but I have been informed that on a visit to Muzaffarpur, Pandey was busy enquiring about the score of a cricket match.
The epidemic is a testimony to his department's failure and his attitude was that of brazenness," Manjhi told reporters.
He was referring to a video that has gone viral in which Pandey, in presence of Union Health Minister Harshvardhan and MoS Ashwini Kumar Choubey, was shown asking "what is the score" while holding a meeting with officials in Muzaffarpur that bore the brunt of the tragedy.
Their visit to Muzaffarpur fell on the day of the World Cup match between India and Pakistan in England.
"I also demand that Harshvardhan resign.
He had visited Muzaffarpur when a similar outbreak took place in 2014.
He had made a number of announcements then and none of them fructified," said Manjhi who had become the CM after Nitish Kumar stepped down taking moral responsibility for the JD(U)'s drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls five years ago.
The episode points towards the government's skewed priorities, he said claiming that the administration has funds to spend on everything except health and education.
"Primary health care is in tatters, forcing people to rush to referral hospitals for the simplest of jobs like administering glucose," Manjhi alleged.