Telangana Health Minister E Rajender on Sunday hit back at BJP chief JP Nadda for criticising the state's handling of COVID-19, saying he made baseless allegations and asked the national party not to indulge in "cheap politics".
Seeking to turn the tables, he accused the Centre of diverting testing kits meant for the state and giving only two lakh N95 masks and 'some' PPE kits as if "it gave alms" while the state on its own procured the necessary gadgets to battle the coronavirus.
In a strongly worded reaction a day after Nadda questioned "low" testing in Telangana, Rajender asked him to look at the situation in BJP-ruled states before criticising others.
"The Centre gave 2 lakh N95 masks and some PPE kits as if it gave alms. The testing kits meant for Telangana were diverted to Kolkata. We got 14 lakh N95 masks and 10 lakh PPE kits on our own. After Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Telangana is racing ahead in the healthcare sector. Telangana is a role model to the country," the Minister told reporters here.
State Finance Minister T Harish Rao also slammed Nadda and asked how a former union health minister could speak in a tone "demeaning" the services of doctors and healthcare staff.
Addressing a virtual rally in Telangana on the completion of one year in office by the Narendra Modi government in its second term, Nadda on Saturday found fault with the TRS government, saying it was not testing enough for COVID-19. The fight against COVID-19 had not happened the way it should be in Telangana, he had claimed.
The testing capacity in the state was less than even a small state like Himachal Pradesh. A young journalist in Telangana died due to shortage of oxygen, he alleged. "However, Telangana moved ahead in corruption... There is corruption in every project," he had charged.
Rajender said the Central teams have appreciated Telangana government's efforts to contain COVID-19, adding over 13,000 died across the country but only around 200 in the state. "We have scrupulously followed all guidelines issued by ICMR... except politics, BJP is not concerned over saving people's lives," he alleged.
"BJP should stop cheap politics. A Delhi leader speaking gully (street) language is unfortunate. Don't make baseless allegations without evidence. Centre is not giving grant's free. States are paying taxes," Rajender said.
"Telangana has been successful in containing coronavirus. BJP should first look at its own (BJP ruled) states before criticising others. It was Telangana that first detected the Markaz (Delhi) cases. The Centre failed in that, though Markaz was just a stone's throw from Parliament," he said.
He was referring to the Tablighi jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin in Delhi which turned out to be a hotspot for the coronavirus in March with its members, who attended a meet, travelling to different parts of the state. Rajender maintained Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first CM to seek a ban on international travel to prevent spread of coronavirus from foreign countries.
Finance Minister Harish Rao said 'politicising' coronavirus that has become a threat to the human survival was akin to demeaning national security.
"Nadda should remember this. Having served as the Union Health Minister, how could Nadda speak in a tone demeaning the services of doctors and healthcare staff? Will that not demoralise the health care workers?" he asked.
As on Saturday, Telangana recorded 7,072 COVID-19 positive cases and 203 deaths due to the virus while the number of cumulative tests stood at 53,757.