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Madhya Pradesh finally gets a health minister, after nearly a month of Covid-19 crisis




File image of Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and fellow BJP leader Narottam Mishra | Photo: ANI
File image of Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan with Narottam Mishra (right) | Photo: ANI

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New Delhi: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has appointed senior BJP leader Narottam Mishra as the Madhya Pradesh health minister, allocating the crucial portfolio 30 days after he assumed power on 23 March by toppling the previous Congress government in the state.

The Chouhan administration has been receiving flak for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, especially as it had been functioning not only without a health minister but also a state cabinet. For 29 days, the state had a one-man cabinet, which the CM expanded Tuesday.

As of Wednesday morning, Madhya Pradesh has 1,552 coronavirus cases but its death toll of 76 is the third highest in the country after Maharashtra (251 deaths) and Gujarat (90). 

Mishra was among the five MLAs inducted into the state Cabinet Tuesday.  

“Narottamji has been appointed as the health minister to deal with Covid-19. He will be responsible for ensuring adequate testing is being carried out and that all required things are in place. He will also coordinate with other health officials,” Chouhan told reporters after the appointments. “He (Mishra) will also carry out all these meetings through video-conferencing. The task force that has been created will be in touch with them too. He will also be in touch with dharm gurus, industry bodies among others.” 

Also read: Jabalpur is a success story in the Covid mess of Madhya Pradesh

The other ministers

While Mishra has been made the health minister, he will also look after the home department. Kamal Patel has been made the agriculture minister while Meena Singh has been given tribal welfare department.  

Tulsi Silawat and Govind Singh Rajput, two former Congress MLAs who left the Kamal Nath government in March, have also been allocated portfolios. Silawat, the health minister in the previous Congress government, has been given the water resources department while Govind Singh Rajput has been made the food processing minister.  

A senior BJP leader told ThePrint Mishra getting such high-profile portfolios was due to the fact that he played a crucial role in “Operation Kamal” through which the BJP toppled the Kamal Nath government.  

“The allocation of portfolios has made it amply clear that Mishra has the backing of the senior leadership and he will play a key role in the functioning of the government. He has managed to get two key portfolios: health and home,” said the senior BJP leader.  

Mishra has served as a minister since Uma Bharati’s time as CM in 2003, and has handled the health portfolio as well. 

The two former Congress MLAs, who joined the BJP along with others following high-profile former MP Jyotiarditya Scindia’s defection to the party, will not be too disappointed with the portfolio allocation, another BJP leader said.    

“The food processing department is crucial as right from providing ration to interacting with the farmers, will be done by him (Rajput). With a number of migrants living in Madhya Pradesh, providing them with food is a big challenge,” the leader said. “Silawat has also been given the task of looking into school and higher education. All the welfare measures will be taken by him.” 

Also read: Muslim burials soar in Indore as hospitals ‘shut out non-Covid patients’ during lockdown

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown

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