In yet another controversy involving the ruling BJP and COVID-19 management in Bengaluru, the vaccination drive on May 31 at the Bhuvaneshwari Nagar Public Health Centre (PHC) was cancelled, allegedly at the behest of local (CV Raman Nagar) MLA S Raghu. This even though around 300 persons were given tokens early in the morning, as has been the norm for weeks for walk-in registrations at the facility. Instead, on Monday, local residents claim the vaccination drive was held at the Om Shakti Kalyana Mantapa run by the MLA, with a banner claiming a free vaccination drive was being done by MLA Raghu. However, only his party cadres and their friends and families got the jab, alleged local residents.
Manju, a local resident, who went as early as 7am to gather tokens for his elderly (72 and 65) parents, said he was told to bring his parents no later than 9:45 am as per the token. â€śWe reached there well ahead of the set time and even packed breakfast as my parents are diabetic. But when we went there we were told at 10:15 am that they will not vaccinate here but everyone should go to the Kalyana Mantapa. I donâ€™t mind waiting in the queue for my parents but now they are telling me to go somewhere else. But still I obliged.â€ť
He added, â€śThere I saw hundreds of people all violating physical distancing norms. I have not let my parents out so far and I was not ready to make my parents wait again in that crowded place without the assurity that they will get the jabs. So I again waited in the queue for 45 minutes and we were told that the MLA should come and inaugurate the drive. This is government vaccines, how can he give it to his men? Now I donâ€™t know when my parents will get the jab.â€ť
He said he was more scared they would get infected there given he has not let his parents out of the house until now.â€ť
Jagadesh, another resident, said, â€śThe MLA has shifted the vaccination centre to his own property where rules mandate it should be held in public places. He has put up a banner with his photo claiming that he is giving the vaccines for free when it is government vaccines for the PHC. Worse, he is only letting people from his party take the jabs.â€ť
Kavitha, another resident, who was given the token at the PHC waited another 45 minutes at the Kalyana Mantapa but there she was told that she cannot get the vaccine as the token is no longer valid. â€śThey say they donâ€™t have any orders to vaccinate here and are asking me to go back saying they will sort out the issue by speaking to doctors. I donâ€™t know what they will do now. For three days, I have been coming to the PHC only to be denied. Now after giving the token, they are making us run from pillar to post, what should we do now?â€ť she asked.
Another video that is doing the rounds in resident groups in the area and surrounding areas including Indiranagar show the PHC doctor being confronted by residents. When a resident is heard asking why the public who have been waiting from the early hours was being harassed, Dr Purushotham is heard suggesting that he is under pressure. In the exchange, a Congress activist Abhilash Reddy is heard asking if the doctor will go to any private place including his residence if asked. To this, the doctor is heard saying that he will set things right within one dayâ€™s time.
Despite repeated attempts, the MLA Raghu, the Dr Purushotham or any relevant BBMP officials could not be reached for a comment. It was only on Saturday that MLA Ravi Subramanya was embroiled in a similar controversy where he was alleged to have blocked vaccines.
Opposition slams local MLA
Reacting to the incident, Mohan Dasari, President, AAP Bengaluru, said, â€śAfter the Ravi-Tejasvi Surya incident, it's very clear that BJP is running a vaccine racket and now it looks like Raghu is part of it. Vaccines have become a commission business for BJP. They don't care for the lives of the people. BJP has become a blood-sucking dragon.â€ť
â€śIf this is the case, why do we need to register on Cowin and wait forever to get slots?â€ť he asked.
Nandish Revanna, local resident and General Secretary of Youth Congress, said, â€śAt least the people who were given the tokens today should have been given the vaccines today. Even if the BJP is misusing the vaccines for their gain, they could have done from tomorrow with prior announcements so that people were not made to wait for nothing.â€ť