New Delhi: Ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Gorakhpur on Saturday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath mounted a veiled attack on the Congress vice-president and said the city wasn't a picnic spot.
"There's a 'yuvraj' (prince) sitting in Delhi, who doesn't understand the significance of a Swachhta Abhiyan. There's no valid reason why he should be permitted to turn Gorakhpur into his picnic spot," Adityanath said after he launched a cleanliness campaign, 'Swachh Uttar Pradesh, Swasth Uttar Pradesh' in Andhiyari Bagh in Gorakhpur.
The chief minister's jibe comes on a day when Rahul is scheduled to visit Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College hospital, where more than 70 children have died since August 7 at the state-run BRD hospital in the district allegedly due to disruption of oxygen supply – a claim the state government has dismissed.
Many consider Yogi’s cleanliness campaign a propitiatory move following the tragedy. While the hospital principal and the doctor in-charge of the paediatric ward have been suspended, a probe has been ordered by the state government.
The political heat has soared in Gorakhpur as Gandhi is in town to visit the hospital today. He also made stops at homes of four families who have lost their children in the tragedy.
Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Raj Babbar had visited the hospital to take stock of the situation immediately after the tragedy came to the fore in the first week of August.
While the Adityanath-led government held Acute Encephalitis responsible for the tragic deaths, the opposition alleged that shortfall in the supply of oxygen in the hospital's paediatric wards was the fatal factor.
However, Adityanath did not allude to the infants' deaths which had made national headlines for days, but blamed the previous Samajwadi Party and BSP regimes for the ramshackle condition of the state's medical infrastructure.
"Government in last 12-15 years has ruined institutions in UP for selfish motives by institutionalizing corruption. They kept people deprived of facilities," the CM charged.
He said the present government was taking steps to transform the state and asked for the people’s participation in the sanitation campaign and making UP free of open defecation.
‘I started movement against Encephalitis; when it comes to it, prevention is better than cure and it starts with sanitation,’ said Adityanath, adding that the 'Swachh Uttar Pradesh, Swasth Uttar Pradesh' campaign was an effort in this direction.
The chief minister, who has represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha five times, will also tour Encephalitis and flood-affected areas.