JAIPUR: An attempt by the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan to lighten its moral responsibility by resorting to statistical play to explain away the deaths of 100 infants in a Kota hospital ICU last month, has led to a political slugfest. Chief Minister Gehlot said infant deaths were lowest in the last six years and even compared to 2018 when the BJP government led by Vasundhara Raje was in power. He said out of the 10 infants who died last week, six were very sick and had been referred from peripheral and private hospitals at the eleventh hour.
A probe panel instituted by the state government had stated last Tuesday that the infants died ‘due to medical reasons’. These were explained as frequent change of oxygen cylinders in neonatal ICU probably causing infection and many infants being brought to the hospital in extreme cold conditions, as far as from Madhya Pradesh, thereby suffering deterioration of their health conditions and leading to deaths.
Hospital paediatrician Amritlal Bairwa also attributed some deaths to premature deliveries and attendants not following procedure. The political world exploded over Gehlot’s statements with the BJP putting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on the defensive. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati joined the chorus over the Congress party’s lack of concern.
In a Hindi tweet, Yogi said the death of so many children was heartrending. The loss of the mothers is against the tenets of civilised society and sensitivity. It is sad that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could not understand the pain, he added.Mayawati charged the Gehlot government with irresponsibility and insensitivity and also questioned Priyanka over her silence on the issue.
She said that if she failed to visit Kota to meet the mothers who lost their children, then her meetings with families of victims in anti-CAA protests in UP will be deemed a ‘drama.’Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also asked Union health secretary to seek details from the Rajasthan government on the deaths.
‘Baby deaths above partisan politics’
Sonia Gandhi on Thursday summoned Congress’s Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pande who briefed her on the situation in the Kota hospital. She has also instructed CM Ashok Gehlot to take necessary action. “Sonia ji wanted to know the reasons for the deaths...The BJP charge is untrue. Inquiry is on and those responsible will be punished,” said Pande. Congress leaders said the incident was “above partisan politics”. Party leader Sushmita Dev dubbed the deaths as a tragedy and said the state government must apprise the nation on action taken.