Allegations of a vaccine blocking scam have raised their head in Karnataka after an audio recording by a social worker with a hospital staffer started doing the rounds on social media.
In the audio, the hospital staffer is purportedly heard telling the social worker that he must book for a vaccine shot through BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya’s office and pay Rs 900 for it. Asked why he has to pay so much, the staffer tells him to approach any Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) vaccine centre for a free vaccine and doesn’t reply when told that no vaccines are available there.
However, the hospital has denied such allegation and said that the audio seemed to be released only to defame an MLA. The hospital further clarified that the money for vaccination is collected through banks only.
“An audio clip purported to contain voices of one self-proclaimed social activist and an alleged employee of AV Multispecialty Hospital is doing rounds on social media and news channels. In the said audio clip, the self-proclaimed social activist seeks information on the vaccination drive from the alleged employee. It clearly appears that the conversation is calculated to specifically defame the hospital and honourable Basavanagudi MLA. It is hereby clarified that the said audio clip is maliciously concocted," said the hospital in a statement.
The hospital also said that it will file a case against the person involved in the act. “It is clarified that the vaccination drive in the hospital is an independent drive in the hospital is an independent activity in 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 person behind this mischievous and criminal act should be brought to justice and the hospital will file a criminal case with the police in this regard," it added.
This is the second big controversy to hit the BJP on Covid management after the bed blocking scam two weeks ago. The police have now arrested a man named Babu, the assistant of BJP MLA Satish Reddy. Babu is said to have played a major role in blocking beds in private hospitals and selling them at high rates to Covid patients when the BBMP website showed no beds available.
Incidentally, Reddy and Subramanya were both at the press conference with BJP MP Tejasvi Surya when he held a press conference about the bed allocation scam.
Ravi Subramanya is Tejasvi Surya’s uncle and represents the Basavanagudi constituency in Bengaluru South.
The Congress has attacked the BJP again on the issue, with Karnataka in-charge Randeep Surjewala accusing the party of profiteering from adversity. Hours after the audio went viral, Surjewala tweeted, “Scandalous and shocking. This is BJP profiteering from adversity. People are dying of a shortage of vaccine and BJP leaders are making money off their misery. Can there be a bigger crime, Mr. Modi?"
Scandalous & Shocking !This is BJP’s -‘आपदा में अवसर’- Profiteer from Adversity
People are dying of shortage of #vaccine & BJP leaders are making money of their misery.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) May 29, 2021
Karnataka Congress president DK Sivakumar said the allegations were serious and called for a court-monitored probe. He said, “Allegations against BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya of taking commission for vaccines is a serious one. MP Tejasvi Surya has been promoting paid vaccination in private hospitals. A suo-motu FIR should be filed, HC must monitor the probe and they should be disqualified by the speaker."
Allegations against BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya of taking commission for vaccines is a serious one. MP Tejasvi Surya has been promoting paid vaccination in private hospitals.
A suo-motu FIR should be filed, HC must monitor the probe and they should be disqualified by the speaker.
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) May 29, 2021
“Yesterday, the Karnataka HC made observations that there are more chances of getting Vaccine from private hospitals than in govt facilities. It is now evident that there is a scam in vaccine allocation and BJP leaders are involved in diverting govt stock to private hospitals," Sivakumar said.