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Union Minister Says Biharis 'Crowding' AIIMS Delhi, Triggers Uproar Back Home

File photo of Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Chaubey. (PTI)

File photo of Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Chaubey. (PTI)

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Choubey said that he had directed AIIMS doctors to send “such patients” back to the state.

Patna: Union Minister Ashwini Choubey landed in trouble on Sunday when he remarked that Biharis were flocking to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi and straining the premier institute’s resources.

Inaugurating the Indradhanush campaign for vaccination of children, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare added that he had directed doctors to send “such patients” back to the state.

Choubey made the controversial comment while stressing on the need to develop health infrastructure in Bihar. “We have this peculiar habit of visiting AIIMS in Delhi for everything. The people of Bihar tend to go there even for a small disease. This has put pressure there and I have directed the doctors to send such patients back to the state.”

The statement snowballed into a political controversy with the opposition RJD and even BJP ally JD(U) condemning it.

“How can he direct doctors to not treat patients from Bihar? He has no right to do so. He is holding a ministerial portfolio at the Centre for the first time and has forgotten his responsibilities,” said RJD’s national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary.

The BJP’s defence that Choubey had been misquoted didn’t fly with ally JD(U) as well, as the latter’s spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said the minister should not have made the remarks. “Our chief minister Nitish Kumar is trying to develop health infrastructure, but people are always free to pick the hospital of their choice.”

However, Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey, who was on the dais when Choubey made the comment, defended the Union Minister, saying, “He was trying to say that the newly constructed AIIMS in Patna will be developed at par with the AIIMS in Delhi and that there would be no need for the people of Bihar to visit Delhi for treatment.”

Ashwini Choubey, who represents Buxar in Lok Sabha, had previously landed in trouble when, as the health minister of the state in 2012, he threatened to chop off the hands of doctors on strike.