Tejasvi Surya ducks questions on ‘communalising’ Covid fight, but says ‘have nothing to apologise for’

A senior civic official told Indianexpress.com that of the 17 Muslim staffers named by Surya, only 11 chose to return to work after the police gave them a clean chit. One has been arrested.

Bangalore South BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, in controversy recently for trying to ‘communalise’ anomalies related to Covid-19 bed allotment in the city, on Monday said he had ‘nothing to apologise for’, as he had ‘made no communal remarks’.

Surya was confronted with questions by reporters during a press meet he convened to list out reforms introduced to the the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) Central Hospital Bed Management System (CHBMS).

Even as he refused to answer direct questions on why he read out names of only 17 Muslim staffers among the 205 at the BBMP South Covid-19 war room, Surya claimed, “It is true that I went and spoke to people at the war room. Why should I apologise when I have not made any communal remark? I have not apologised to anybody. I just asked why and how these people (Muslim employees whose names he read out) were appointed.”

Also read | Bengaluru reacts to Tejasvi Surya: ‘CM, Opposition leaders should stand up…,’ says Guha, others demand probe

The 17 had been dismissed after the MP’s visit, but 16 were reinstated after the police gave them a clean chit. A senior BBMP official overseeing the operation of war rooms told Indianexpress.com that only 11 chose to return to work. “The nodal officer in charge of the particular zone had directed the agency to take back the people who were in the list mentioned by the MP. However, only 11 have chosen to report back to duties, while one person has been arrested by the police,” the official said. When asked if the BBMP chief was aware of the situation and why the others had not turned up, the official chose not to comment.

The one in police custody is Dr Rihan, who is being interrogated by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) for his alleged links to the bed allotment scam. The CCB has arrested seven accused so far.

‘Accountability in bed blocking increased’

Among several “reforms” brought to CHBMS in the last 100 hours, Surya mentioned a new two-factor authentication that would send out an SMS alert to the patient allotted a bed. “Earlier, war rooms had generic logins with common username used by multiple people. Bookings will now be tagged to individuals, thereby bringing in transparency and accountability,” he explained.

The MP also said the reservation time for each hospital bed had been reduced to four hours. “The auto-unblock time of a bed, where a bed is automatically unbooked if a patient doesn’t report for admission for 10 hours, was too long. Now, bed booking is valid only for four hours with an option to re-block in exceptional cases,” he said.

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