The interim report of the Supreme Court-appointed panel has raised many questions over the functioning of the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi when the second wave of the COVID pandemic swept over the National Capital between April and May. The report circulating in the media claimed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government had exaggerated Delhi’s need for oxygen by four times at the peak of the second wave, which affected its supply to 12 high caseload states.
While the BJP has called it criminal negligence and sought an apology from the Delhi Chief Minister for deliberately creating a false alarm and depriving the needy states of the oxygen supply, Arvind Kejriwal has accused the saffron party of spreading lies with the help of an imaginary report. His deputy, Manish Sisodia has categorically denied the existence of any such report by the SC panel.
BJP, AAP spar over Delhi oxygen audit ‘report’
The verbal duel between the two political parties over the issue has turned it into another Centre vs Delhi flare-up. But in case the veracity of the claims regarding the report is proved, the Delhi Chief Minister will have many tough questions to answer.
Then he won’t be able to morally hide behind the tweet that he posted on Friday in Hindi which read, ‘My crime is that I fought for the lives of Delhi’s 2 crore people.’
Because then, he may have to answer the Supreme Court on what basis he made the demands of oxygen. He may also have to explain, ‘How did he calculate the requirement of oxygen for Delhi?’
After oxygen ‘overstatement’ Delhi CM overreacting?
The report raked up by the BJP claimed that the Delhi government sought 1,140 Metric Tonnes of oxygen, but as per the formula based on bed capacity, the requirement was only 289MT. The alleged report asserted that the average consumption of oxygen in Delhi during the second wave was between 284 to 372 MT.
How will Arvind Kejriwal justify his statement, if the report turns true? Will he say that he did it out of panic? Or will he concede that he was doing it to bury his own failures by deflecting the blame to the Centre? Well, it’s difficult to predict what only the future holds the key to.
But one certainly wonders what did he mean by saying, ‘My crime is that I fought for the lives of Delhi’s 2 crore people’? Did he try to put the onus of his oxygen exaggeration on the people of Delhi? As if: Yes, I did it; and I did it for the people.
BJP’s fictitious report or AAP’s politics over pandemic?
Of course, a chief minister must do all he can take to save the lives of his people. But definitely not by inflating the need for oxygen and hoarding it, endangering the lives of people in the neighbouring states, what the ‘unconfirmed’ audit panel has mentioned in its report.
Essentially, the Oxygen Audit Committee headed by AIIMS director Randeep Guleria was formed by the Supreme Court on 6 May 2021. But Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia claimed he spoke to the members of the panel who told him that they had not signed or approved any such report.
A day after the controversy erupted, however, the Delhi Chief Minister seems to have changed his tune. This time, he has called on the Centre to work together to avoid the shortage of oxygen if the third wave hits the Capital. In his latest Hindi tweet, Arvind Kejriwal has said, “If your fight over oxygen is over, can we get back to work? Together, let’s create a system to ensure there is no shortage of oxygen in the third wave.’