Chandigarh, August 9

Ridiculing the so-called Delhi model as nothing more than a desperate bid by the Arvind Kejriwal government to divert attention from its own failures, Punjab Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Sunday said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was making a laughing stock of itself with its absurd claims on Covid management in the national capital.


The Minister termed Punjab Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema’s statement expressing “dissatisfaction” over the Captain Amarinder Singh government’s measures to tackle the pandemic as `ludicrous”, and said the AAP MLA was clearly oblivious to the fact that Punjab continues to fare much better than many other states in the fight against Covid, which in fact had totally exposed the inadequate Delhi healthcare infrastructure.


Sidhu pointed out that the effectiveness of Punjab’s battle against Covid was not on account of any help from the central government, unlike Delhi where the Centre had to step in and virtually take over the pandemic management to pull the city out of the total and unprecedented mess into which the AAP government had pushed it.


The less said about the AAP government’s Covid management in Delhi the better, said the Minister, pointing out that even now, the Delhi High Court was continuously questioning and, in fact, pulling up the Kejriwal government over its pandemic strategy. Just last week, the court had termed as `incomprehensible” the resistance shown by Delhi government on its monitoring the progress made in ramping up the testing, he recalled.


“What Delhi model is this, which even the High Court is not satisfied with?,” he asked, adding that Punjab remains far ahead of Delhi in terms of effectiveness in Covid management.


Given that the entire testing strategy of the Delhi government was under the court’s scanner, Cheema’s insistence on Punjab adopting the same strategy was not just laughable but a clear indication that the AAP was not interested in protecting the people of Punjab, said Sidhu. All they (AAP) have ever cared about was promoting their own interests, which the people of Punjab had seen through back in 2017 itself when they had shattered the party’s dreams of forming the government in the state, he added.


In sharp contrast to Delhi, where the Centre had to chip in to strengthen the medical infrastructure, Punjab was continuously augmenting its hospitals, Covid centres and bed capacity as well as other facilities/equipment, almost on a daily basis, said Sidhu. Also, unlike Delhi, where the case numbers were effectively being fudged by keeping RT-PCR testing low and focusing largely on the uncertain Rapid Antigen Tests (with their large fake negatives), the Punjab Government, under Captain Amarinder, was going in for regular increase for the `gold standard’ RT-PCR test, he added.


Asking Cheema to verify his facts before shooting through his mouth, the Minister further noted that the Kejriwal government’s mismanagement had caused Delhi to contribute 10% of the total deaths in the country. Punjab, on the other head, has accounted so far for 1% of the deaths, and those too mostly related to co-morbidity, he added. Sidhu said he did not think even a single Punjabi would want this kind of Delhi model being emulated in their state.


Reacting to Cheema’s allegation of misappropriate of funds by the government in Punjab, Sidhu challenged him to produce proof of his unsubstantiated claim. The truth of the matter was that despite no fiscal aid from the central government and no resources of its own, the state government was ensuring that fiscal constraints do not come in the way of saving the lives of Punjabis from the deadly Coronavirus, he added.


The fact was that AAP has no leg to stand on in Punjab, which was headed towards Assembly polls in just about 18 months, and was thus resorting to falsehoods and fabrications to mislead the people, said the Minister. Pointing to the restructuring of AAP’s Punjab unit, he further said the move showed how pathetic the party’s situation in the state currently is.


To Cheema’s remarks on a media report regarding two bodies lying on a hospital floor for 12 hours, Sidhu said the report had already been proven to be false and the newspaper had subsequently also published a clarification.


Expressing shock over Cheema’s endorsement of unfounded and unsubstantiated reports, the Minister said the AAP MLA was trying to create panic with his irresponsible statements in these grave times of anxiety. He asked the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly to come out of his fake comfort world of the social media and act with the responsibility befitting his position to support the state government’s efforts in the interest of Punjab, if he truly cared about the state and its people.