Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja has received accolades from all quarters for her daily press meets and transparent way of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in the state. However, if there is one person who is unhappy with her, it is Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala. In a press meet on Thursday, Chennithala said that KK Shailaja has ‘media mania’, which is why she was conducting daily press meets on COVID-19. The remark by the Opposition Leader came at a time when health officials in Kerala, led by Minister KK Shailaja, are struggling to rein in the spread of coronavirus. Kerala has the highest number of cases in the country, with 14 active COVID-19 patients and three who have recovered.
“There is no need to conduct three-four press meets in a day. The image building she does through social media should be stopped. People are anxious. There are no masks, no facilities, no doctors, these are the things to be looked into. Instead of releasing a press statement, an image building exercise is being done,” said Chennithala. Ironically, the Congress leader's remarks come at a time when in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, Health Minister Sriramulu is being questioned for not holding a press meet on Thursday.
*1 new #COVIDー19 case #Karnataka,total now 5 in state— Sharan Poovanna (@sharanpoovanna) March 12, 2020
*No info shared on 76yr suspected to have died coz of #COVIDー19
* @DHFWKA not sharing any info
*If misinformation is punishable under new regulations, shldnt not sharing info also be a crime @sriramulubjp @mla_sudhakar
Chennithala’s sudden aggression towards the Health Minister seems to be a reaction to KK Shailaja's furious reaction to the opposition in state assembly on Wednesday. It is also to be noted that KK Shailaja has not held three to four press meets per day. There have been days when she held press meets twice, sometimes just once.
Chennithala and other Congress leaders had earlier alleged that the three member Pathanamthitta family who came from Italy, now tested positive for coronavirus, have come under criticism and trolling since the health department said the family failed to report their details to officials. To this, Minister Shailaja on Wednesday gave a sharp retort, and stated specifics in the assembly about how the family failed to co-operate.
“I had seen a Facebook post by the Opposition Leader and it is really sad. This is the time the Opposition Leader and the whole opposition should stand together with the government,” she said in the assembly on Thursday. She also said that though the action of the family was highly irresponsible, the government is only bothered about saving their lives.
Chennithala’s comment has not been well received by a lot of people in Kerala. Many have criticised him for his statement. Many have pointed out that the daily press meets directly held by the Health Minister has in fact communicated to people the seriousness with which the government is handling the issue.
"Shame, Ramesh Chennithala. Condemnable comments from the opposition leader at a time when you should be joining hands with the government. You use “mania”, a psychiatric term that has always been used to denigrate and diminish women, to describe an efficient, conscientious, model minister who is burning the midnight oil to keep the people safe from coronavirus. What are you scared of Chennithala? That people are willing to listen to and follow Minister KK Shailaja in this hour of grave crisis?," journalist Charmy H wrote on Facebook.
Many have posted comments on Ramesh Chennithala's Facebook page that his comments were unncessacty and harmful.