I called PM Modi asking for medical supplies but he was busy on Bengal tour: Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

NCP leader Nawab Malik also accused Modi of being busy in elections while “people are dying”.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday – tried reaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the lack of medical supplies (Oxygen and Remdesivir – a drug for Covid-19 treatment) in the state to battle the novel coronavirus, claimed the state’s minority affairs minister Nawab Malik. However, the minister pointed out that PM Modi wasn’t available since he was busy with the Bengal poll campaign.

“Chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) is trying to contact PM Modi on phone over shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir and he was informed that the Prime Minister is on Bengal tour,” Mumbai President of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Nawab Malik said and accused Modi of being busy in elections while “people are dying”, suggests a recent Hindustan Times report.

Malik’s attack comes after the candidates of West Bengal have been hurling potshots across each other at rallies. These events – including those by Home Minister Amit Shah and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – have been held in the midst of a surging coronavirus pandemic; this morning, for the third successive day, India reported over two lakh new cases in 24 hours.

The pictures shared by news agency ANI illustrate people gathering in large crowds without face masks and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with absolutely no regard for social distancing.

Election Commission (EC) rules demanding venues be disinfected and hand sanitisers be provided are also apparently ignored, reported NDTV.

The EC on Friday reportedly ordered curbs on campaigning for the last three phases of the eight-phase West Bengal elections, including extending the silence period before voting from 48 hours to 72 hours and barring all campaigning from 7 pm to 10 am, in view of the rising COVID-19 cases.

PM Modi’s busy schedule has raised eyebrows as he has addressed multiple rallies across Assam, Bengal and Tamil Nadu – all states holding Assembly elections – in the past few weeks. Furthermore, these poll events violated Covid-19 containment protocols which were urged to be followed by him and other senior members of his government.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s call came two days after he wrote to the centre, asking for help in airlifting oxygen from other parts of the country and in providing financial relief for poorer sections of the society.

However, it seems the centre turned a blind eye against Mr Thackeray’s SOS forcing him to dial the PM.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), however, refuted Malik’s claims and said PM Modi himself reviewed the state of oxygen supply on Friday amid surging Covid-19 cases and that the government is in constant touch with the state governments, reported Hindustan Times.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien was shocked at PM’s alleged unavailability over CM Uddhav Thackeray’s call.

“#SHOCKER Maharashtra CM @OfficeofUT called Modi requesting for urgent supply of oxygen for his State. Was informed that PM busy campaigning in Bengal. Will respond on his return,” TMC leader Derek O’Brien posted on Twitter.

Maharashtra has reported over six lakh active cases and the state is struggling with the gradually declining medical facilities on multiple fronts – including rising demand for oxygen cylinders – a demand that, if unmet, could be fatal for many Covid patients.

Maharashtra is currently the worst Covid-19 affected state in the country. The state reported 63,729 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, which has taken the state’s infection tally past 3.7 million. As many as 398 fatalities due to the viral disease were also recorded on Friday and now the state’s death toll stands at 59,551.

PM Modi on Saturday held a meeting to review the coronavirus and vaccination situation. It was attended by several top officers across various ministries that started at 8 pm today.

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