Bihar Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Tejashwi Yadav on Thursday slammed the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance government for “lying and manipulating” COVID-19 data and figures to confuse people in poll-bound Bihar. He also accused the Central government of “step-motherly” treatment meted out to Bihar in the allocation of funds to meet the COVID-19 challenges in the State.
“In response to a question raised by me in the recently concluded one-day monsoon session of the State Assembly, Health Minister Mangal Pandey said that out of a total of 6.12 lakh tests for COVID-19 in the State 3.24 lakh (52.9%) were done by RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) but on 11 August, in a review meeting with the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister said that RT-PCR tests are being done in Bihar in less than 10% [of samples]. Now, the Health Minister should tell who was lying — he himself or has the CM lied to the PM?” Mr. Tejashwi Yadav asked while addressing media persons in Patna.
He added that there were 3,000-3,500 positive cases when 10,000 tests were being conducted but now, when the State was testing 75,000 samples, the average number of positive cases remained 4,000. “This means that the government is lying and manipulating data and figures... Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is focusing on the increasing number of rapid antigen tests only to save his face in poll-bound Bihar, Mr. Yadav alleged. “Antigen tests are like screening tests that have very low credibility. Screening tests and diagnostic tests are two different things,” he said.
Mr. Yadav further demanded that, like others States, the Bihar government too should increase RT-PCR testing. “As per Bihar government data, on average, 6,100 RT-PCR tests are being conducted, which means that only 10% of the total COVID-19 tests are being conducted through the RT-PCR method [in Bihar], while in Tamil Nadu, all tests are being done through RT-PCR. On an average, 67,000 tests are being conducted there [in Tamil Nadu] daily. In Andhra Pradesh 27,000, and in Gujarat 20,000 RT-PCR tests are being done daily,” he said.
Mr. Yadav also accused the Central government of “step-motherly treatment” to Bihar in the allocation of funds to meet the challenges of COVID-19 in the State. “The Centre has given ₹890 crore to various States and Union Territories under the COVID-19 package but it has not given any money to Bihar. Even after knowing of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the State, the Central government has meted out step-motherly treatment to Bihar,” he said.
“Chief minister Nitish Kumar should also tell us how much money has been spent under the Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package and why Bihar was kept out of this package in its second installment? Has Bihar got this benefit out of a double engine government?” Mr. Yadav asked, adding: “The Chief Minister should tell us how much money has been spent yet in the State under Corona Relief Funds? Has the State government bought ventilators, testing kits and other related equipments, or it is solely dependent on the Central government?”
Mr Yadav demanded that the number RT-PCR labs should be increased and, every day, 50,000 RT-PCR tests be done in the State.
Meanwhile, the State Health Department said total number of COVID-19 positive cases in the State had risen to 94,459 and the total number of deaths reported is 484. The department also said that the number of recovered persons in the State, so far, has been 62,507, with a recovery rate of 66.17%, and a total 13,77,432 sample tests have been done so far.