Congress, BJD and BJP vie with each other to take the credit

The much awaited inauguration of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, turned into a political fracas here on Wednesday with three major political parties, Congress, Biju Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party, vying with each other to take the credit for its establishment.

In the run-up to the AIIMS-Bhubaneswar’s inauguration, it was expected that the function would pass off like any other opening ceremony. On Wednesday, roads leading to AIIMS-Bhubaneswar campus were depicting a different picture.

Congress had taken the lead by putting up dozens of hoardings along the main road passing through Biju Patnaik Police Academy thanking the Union government for sanctioning three medical colleges at Balasore, Bolangir and Koraput.

The posters had pictures of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Jayadev Jena, local Congress leader Suresh Routray. Mr. Routray had even organised lunch for local people to participate in inaugural function.

BJD workers led by Jatni MLA Bibhuti Bhusana Balabantaray were seen going around the AIIMS campus to make sure the AIIMS-Bhubaneswar inauguration did not look like a Congress party function.

When the inaugural session finally got under way, speeches delivered by Union Minister Azad, Chief Minister Patnaik, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Jena and Bhubaneswar Member of Parliament Prasanna Patsani were laced with political jibes.

Countering attempt of Congress to take credit for AIIMS establishment, Mr. Patsani began by narrating how BJD leaders had first placed the demand for AIIMS in Bhubaneswar before the then Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Sushma Swaraj way back in 2000. “We brought a fact to the notice of Ms. Swaraj that Bhubaneswar is the only State capital where there is no medical college.”

Union Minister Jena was seen profusely thanking UPA chairperson, Prime Minister and Union Health Minister and counting the number of medical colleges, both proposed and grounded on the initiative of the Centre. Referring to the BJD’s ‘routine’ accusation of central negligence, he said, “We work silently, but others take credit for this.”

In his address, Mr. Patnaik said, “the journey which began in 2000 (NDA regime when BJD was alliance partner) finally become a reality. We have made 92 acres of land available for AIIMS free of cost. We are also making efforts to upgrade Capital Hospital like Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh… with little more help from Union government, we will achieve our goal in health sector.”

Union Health Minister Azad did not lag behind. “Although establishment of AIIMS at Bhubaneswar was announced much earlier, the environment clearance application was not moved till 2009 when I took over the Health Ministry.”

Outside the inaugural ceremony venue, a group of BJP workers protested against attempts of taking political mileage of establishment of AIIMS.Congress and BJD used the function for their own ends,” BJP leader Sameer Mohanty said, questioning the hurry to inaugurate half-finished AIIMS campus.