The BJP government in Gujarat on Wednesday strongly refuted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s claim that nearly 3 lakh people have died due to COVID-19 so far as against the official tally of around 10,000 and dubbed his remark as an attempt to misguide people and malign the state.
A Gujarat minister challenged Rahul Gandhi to take a similar stand on states where the Congress is in power on its own or in coalition and declare that their official COVID-19 death figures were also fabricated.
Responding to Rahul Gandhi’s charge, Gujarat Education Minister and government’s spokesperson Jitu Vaghani said there is a difference between people who succumbed to Covid and deaths occurring due to other ailments during the pandemic period.
“Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that 3 lakh people have lost their lives due to coronavirus in Gujarat is baseless and unfounded. We condemn such attempts to malign Gujarat. This is being done by the Congress as part of their agenda to incite people and create panic among the masses through falsehood,” Mr Vaghani told reporters in Gandhinagar.
According to Mr Vaghani, the official number of deaths in Gujarat due to Covid is 10,088 (10,092 as on Nov 24), and not 3 lakh as claimed by Rahul Gandhi.
In comparison, the minister said in Maharashtra, where the Congress is part of the ruling coalition, the official COVID-19 deaths is 1,40,807. In Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – all ruled by the Congress – the official death count is 16,553, 8,954 and 13,552, respectively, he said.
In the Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Delhi, the government’s official coronavirus fatality tally is 25,091, Mr Vaghani said.
“Rahul Gandhi should answer before the media and declare that official figures of the Congress-ruled states were also fabricated. I condemn Rahul Gandhi’s attempt to misguide people as he showed deaths due to other illnesses during the pandemic as deaths due to coronavirus,” said Mr Vaghani.
He said the matter related to compensation to families of COVID-19 victims is still pending before the Supreme Court.
In the government’s defence, the minister further said the death certificates for those who died during the pandemic were issued as per the guidelines formulated by the WHO and the Health Department.
During the day, Rahul Gandhi shared a video in which families, who lost their dear ones due to COVID-19 in Gujarat, alleged that they did not receive timely help from the government.
In the 4.31-minute video, released as part of “Congress Nyay campaign”, Rahul Gandhi said the ‘Gujarat model’ is much talked about but the families said during the pandemic they neither got a hospital bed nor a ventilator.
Rahul Gandhi said while the Gujarat government claims that only 10,000-odd patients have died due to COVID-19, the truth is that “three lakh people have died” due to the infection.
He claimed Congress workers have gone house-to-house to ascertain the figure put out by him.
“The official tally says 10,000 people died due to COVID-19, but the truth is three lakh (succumbed),” he claimed.
Rahul Gandhi said the Congress wants the government to pay compensation of Rs four lakh each to the families of people who have died due to the infection in the country.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)