Centre’s engagement in toppling state government led to delay in taking steps to tackle COVID-19 crisis: Kamal Nath

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who resigned from the post last month, lashed out at the centre on Sunday over the novel coronavirus outbreak in the state that has infected 532 people and killed 36 others.
The “centre’s engagement in toppling the (state) government led to delay in taking steps to tackle” the crisis, he said, referring to dramatic scenes last month in which 22 former MLAs resigned to leave the ruling Congress short of numbers in the Assembly and thereby allowing the BJP to grab power.
Kamal Nath also pointed out that the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was sworn in as Chief Minister two days after the Congress government collapsed, had still not yet appointed ministers for Home and Health ministries – key posts in the battle to contain the contagious COVID-19 virus.
“Madhya Pradesh is the only state where there is no minister for Home and Health. Lockdown was imposed 40 days after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi expressed concerns. The centre’s engagement in toppling Madhya Pradesh government (has) led to delay in taking steps to tackle (the) COVID-19 (outbreak),” Kamal Nath was quoted by news agency ANI.
Madhya Pradesh is among the states most badly hit by the COVID-19 outbreak; only Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have reported more cases and only Maharashtra has more deaths.
Holding the BJP-led government at the centre responsible for the crisis, Kamal Nath also said the people of Madhya Pradesh had been “befooled”. “Nowhere in the world has this (failure to appoint key ministers) happened,” he claimed.
“(The) cabinet (has) yet to be formed. On March 12, I ordered the closing of malls and other places but no action has been taken after my resignation,” he added.
Over half of the COVID-19 cases in the state have been reported from the city of Indore, which has also reported a shockingly high death rate – 11 per cent, or three times the national average.
Madhya Pradesh is also the state where healthcare workers and civic officials have been attacked, on at least two separate occasions. One attack – in which two women doctors were injured – was reported from Indore earlier this month.
On Saturday Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi he was not in favour of lifting the nationwide lockdown in force to contain the virus and due to end Tuesday. The comment was made during a video conference with PM Modi and at least 12 other chief ministers.
After the four-hour meeting the Prime Minister indicated a two-week extension but an official announcement has yet to be made. Meanwhile, Punjab, Odisha, Telangana and Maharashtra have announced individual extensions to the same lockdown.
Worldwide nearly 18 lakh people have been infected and 1.09 lakh killed by a virus that originated in China’s Wuhan district in December last year.