The Madhya Pradesh government cited the coronavirus pandemic to cancel the assembly session.

Bhopal:

The opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh has moved a privilege motion against three senior health department officers, accusing them of manipulating and suppressing COVID-19 data to get the state’s three-day winter session of the assembly called off last month.

The move came after an NDTV report on how the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh had called off the winter session of the assembly two days before the session, saying 34 Vidhan Sabha employees had tested positive.

NDTV found that most of the alleged patients were not employees of the Vidhan Sabha. Many of them also said they tested negative for the virus before the session was to begin.

NDTV contacted many of these 34 people who were shown positive on December 24 and found that most of them had tested negative on December 26. The decision to call off the Vidhan Sabha session was taken at an all-party meeting on December 27, weeks after the BJP government triumphed in the by-elections.

Madhya Pradesh’s Additional Chief Secretary of Health, who was present at the meeting, gave a presentation on the status of the coronavirus pandemic, stressing on why the session should not be held.

NDTV has accessed minutes of the meeting, in which the Additional Chief Secretary said 67 of the 281 tests conducted at the MLA rest house campus had come out positive.

The eight-page privilege motion addressed to the assembly speaker was moved by leader of the opposition and state Congress chief Kamal Nath on Saturday and has signatures of six other Congress MLAs, including ex-ministers Dr Govind Singh, PC Sharma, Umang Singar, Sajjan Verma, ex-Speaker NP Prajapati and first-time MLA Pravin Pathak.

The privilege motion was moved against the Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Mohd Suleman, Director (Health Services) Sanjay Goyal and Bhopal district chief medical and health officer Dr Prabhakar Tiwari and others for concealing and manipulating facts, in a conspiracy to call off the session.

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Former parliamentary affairs minister Dr Govind Singh was the only MLA who had vehemently opposed the move to call off the three-day session over COVID-19 pandemic during the December 27 all-party meeting.

“We’ve got detailed evidence with us which strongly suggests that the entire details about a large number of Vidhan Sabha staff who were shown to have tested COVID-19 positive, was nothing but fake,” Dr Govind Singh said about the NDTV report.

Former law minister PC Sharma said, “NDTV’s coverage showed how the session was postponed which was nothing but a scam by fudging the numbers, just to save the government from being cornered by the opposition on various issues, also because of the internal feud in the BJP, they are not able to select the candidate for speaker. That’s why they do not want to conduct the regular business of the house.”

BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari, however, rejected the conspiracy claims, saying, “The Congress is not worried about their MLAs, but we are. The decision was taken in an all-party meeting in the presence of Mr Kamal Nath.”

The budget session of the Madhya Pradesh assembly will be held from February 22 to March 26. The proposed session will be the longest amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The notification was released on Friday.



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