BJP’s Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya found himself in the centre of a controversy on Saturday after allegations of registering people for paid COVID-19 vaccination drive. This, after an audio of a social worker speaking to a hospital staff was shared widely. In the audio, the voice purported to be that of the hospital staff tells the caller, a social worker named Venkatesh, that the vaccine costs Rs 900 and that amount has to be paid to MLA Ravi Subramanya's office and the vaccination will be provided by Vasavi Hospital.
When the staff member is asked why the vaccine costs that much, Venkatesh is told to approach a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) vaccine centre for a free vaccine. The staff member does not revert when she is told that vaccines are not available there. Vasavi hospital is situated in Kumaraswamy Layout area of Bengaluru and BJP MP Tejasvi Surya (who is Ravi Subramanya's nephew) has been promoting this vaccination drive, calling it a major drive to help the people of south Bengaluru.
A complaint written by Venkatesh has been distributed to the media, however it is unclear in which station he has filed the complaint. Police officials at the Girinagar police station did not respond to queries about the complaint.
Reacting to the controversy, Ravi Subramanya denied the allegations. “Certain miscreants have used my name in an allegation about COVID-19 vaccine charges through an audio recording. I visited the 'AV Multispeciality hospital' at Hosakerehalli, where this incident was highlighted in the audio to meet those who have intentionally acclaimed these charges,” he said.
“It is a shame that these miscreants have indulged in such transgression, when the world is working towards a common good to help each other during the pandemic. The couple who have colluded should be chastened so that the public is not misguided, with false claims,” he added.
Certain miscreants have used my name in an allegation about COVID Vaccine charges through an audio recording. Visited the 'AV Multispeciality hospital' at Hosakerahalli, where this incident was highlighted in the audio to meet those who have intentionally acclaimed these charges. pic.twitter.com/dWwqhtwKzj— Ravi Subramanya L. A | ರವಿ ಸುಬ್ರಮಣ್ಯ ಎಲ್. ಎ (@Ravi_LA) May 29, 2021
The hospital - AV Hospital in Hosakerehalli - also issued a statement saying that the vaccination drive in the hospital was not connected to the MLA. “It is clarified that the vaccination drive in the hospital is an independent drive in the hospital is an independent activity of the Hospital and the Honourable MLA has no connection with it. The vaccines are procured by the hospital and are administered to people by charging the government prescribed rate,” the hospital’s statement said.
Ravi Subramanya is the uncle of Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya and recently, he was alongside Tejasvi Surya during the press conference held about the bed blocking scam. He was also present during the MP’s raid of the BBMP South War Room and during the raid he demanded to know, “Have you hired people to a madrassa or a corporation?”.
This is the fourth controversy related to the BJP and COVID-19 in Bengaluru. First it was the raid of the BBMP south war room on May 4 by Tejasvi Surya and three BJP MLAs that made news. Tejasvi was criticised for singling out 16 Muslims who worked in the 212-strong war room and insinuating that they were part of the bed scam.
Later, videos surfaced of BJP MLA Satish Reddy’s aides manhandling IAS officer V Yashavantha, for refusing to handover beds to the MLA. After the IAS Association strongly condemned the attack, the officer filed a complaint against unknown people. The videos however clearly showed the MLA and his aides heckling the officer. Satish Reddy too had accompanied Tejasvi during the raid and in the video can be seen telling the members of the war room that the 16 Muslims had an ‘intention’ and were behind the scam. Not one person from that list has been named or arrested in the bed scam. In fact the BBMP has agreed to take all of them back to work.
The third controversy was when Satish Reddy’s aide Babu was arrested by the Central Crime Branch for his alleged involvement in the bed scam. Babu was accused of selling beds to patients.