Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office on Friday issued a clarification after a row erupted over his address during the review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telecast live for some time, during which the Aam Aadmi Party (leader) raised alarm about “a big tragedy” that could happen because of the oxygen shortage in hospitals during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today, the CM’s address was shared live because there has never been any instruction, written or verbal, from the central government that the said interaction could not be shared live,” Delhi chief minister’s office said, according to news agency ANI. “There have been multiple occasions of similar interactions where matters of public importance, which had no confidential information, were shared live. However, if any inconvenience was caused we highly regret that,” it added.
Prime Minister Modi held a virtual meeting with the chief ministers of 10 states with the most number of Covid-19 cases even as India reported the world’s highest daily tally of infections for a second day on Friday. The country, the second worst-affected after the United States, surpassed 330,000 new Covid-19 cases as its health system was overwhelmed by patients and shortages of medical oxygen and drugs. Chief ministers of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh were among those who attended the meeting.
During the meeting, Kejriwal also said the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through the Indian Army and requested PM Modi to direct chief ministers of all states to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to the national capital. “People in major pain due to oxygen shortage. We fear a big tragedy may happen due to oxygen shortage and we will never be able to forgive ourselves. I request you with folded hands to direct all CMs to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to Delhi,” he said during the meeting.
“We need a national plan to deal with the crisis. The central government should take over all oxygen plants through the army and every tanker coming out of the oxygen plant should be accompanied by an army escort vehicle… The oxygen supply scheduled to come to Delhi from Odisha and West Bengal should either be airlifted or brought through the Oxygen express started by the Centre,” he said.
The Centre, according to ANI, later accused Arvind Kejriwal of using the review meeting as a platform to play politics. They said Kejriwal raised the point of airlifting oxygen but was unaware that it was already being done. “(He) chose to spread lies on vaccine prices despite knowing that the Centre does not keep one vaccine dose with itself and shares with states only,” ANI quoted a source as saying. “Kejriwal has descended to a new low. For the first time, the private conversations of the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chief Ministers were televised. His entire speech was not meant for any solution but for playing politics and evade responsibility,” the source also said, according to ANI.
Union home minister Amit Shah, railways minister Piyush Goyal, Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and officials of the the health ministry were present at the meeting.
India reported more than 300,000 cases of the coronavirus disease—the world’s highest daily tally of infections—on Friday for the second straight day in a row. According to the health ministry, 332,730 Covid-19 cases and 2263 related deaths were reported in the country in the last 24 hours in the highest single-day spike since the pandemic broke out last year.