Mumbai

BJP, MVA govt. squabble over supply of Remdesivir

Helping hand: Members of the Muslim community placing oxygen cylinders before their free distribution to needy people in Mumbai on Sunday.  

As Maharashtra sinks into a medical abyss amid unprecedented case surges, its politicians refuse to desist from slanging matches over the alleged shortage of Remdesivir and oxygen supply.

On Saturday night, Bharatiya Janata Party Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar went to Mumbai’s Vile Parle police station after the police questioned a director of a Daman-based pharmaceutical company for allegedly hoarding a large consignment of Remdesivir for export.

The Mumbai Police said that the executive of the firm, Bruck Pharma, had been called in for questioning regarding allegations that a consignment of the antiviral drug was due to be sent abroad, despite the Centre banning its export owing to its shortage within the country.

“Even as we are all fighting COVID-19 in such trying times, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, in an extremely shameful act, suddenly detained officials of Bruck Pharma who were supposed to supply Remdesivir to Maharashtra,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

He said that as per Bruck Pharma officials, the firm could produce the drug but could not supply it without the government’s permission. “I then spoke to Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and arranged for the required permission,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

Mr. Darekar said that the BJP had wanted to distribute the drug through the Maharashtra government and that as a noble gesture, the party had decided to foot the entire cost of ₹4.75 crore.

The Mumbai Police denied allegations that the Bruck Pharma official was ‘arrested’, and said that he was only summoned for an inquiry in the wake of black-marketing incidents of the drug.

The detention of the Bruck Pharma director and the high drama at Vile Parle police station came after Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, lashing out at the Centre’s ‘step-motherly treatment’ of the State, claimed in a series of tweets that 16 export companies for Remdesivir had allegedly told the MVA government that they had been instructed by Central government authorities not to supply the medicine to Maharashtra.

“This is a dangerous precedent and under these circumstances, Maharashtra Government will have no choice but to seize the stock of Remdesivir from these exporters and supply it to the needy…Here is another proof of step motherly treatment given by central government to Maharashtra,” Mr. Malik had tweeted.

On Sunday, Congressman and State Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat hit out at Mr. Fadnavis, saying it would have been better for Maharashtra had the BJP leader gone to the Centre instead and procured supplies of Remdesivir and oxygen for the State.

Congress leader Sachin Sawant said that it was “absolutely astonishing” to see Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Darekar put pressure on the police for a businessman. “What is the fault of [the] police?” he asked. “They had intelligence that a large stock of 60,000 vials of remdesivir is hiding with exporters of Brook Laboratories which is not reported.”

In a series of tweets, Mr. Sawant said that companies needed to inform the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and the State Food and Drug Administration about the details of the stock with them following the Centre’s ban on the export of the drug.

“Mumbai police had called [the] director for inquiry but he kept evading and came only after two days…but the BJP leaders became so upset that they personally rushed to his aid,” Mr. Sawant said.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 3:35:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/bjp-mva-govt-squabble-over-supply-of-remdesivir/article34353987.ece

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