Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's televised comments during the interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday regarding the pandemic situation in the national capital and acute oxygen crisis in hospitals has triggered a row. The Union government officials have accused him of "playing politics".
Union government sources alleged that Kejriwal has chosen to spread lies on vaccine prices despite knowing that the Centre does not keep any vaccine dose with itself and shares everything with the states. "He chose to spread lies on vaccine prices despite knowing that Centre does not keep one vaccine dose with itself and shares with states only," government sources told news agency ANI.
Government sources said that Delhi CM Kejriwal raised point of airlifting oxygen, but did not know that it is already being done. They added, "He spoke about Oxygen express by Railways but Railway sources say that he has not communicated anything about it to Railways."
"Kejriwal has descended to a new low. For the first time, private conversations of PMs meeting with CM was televised. His entire speech was not meant for any solution but for playing politics and evade responsibility," they added.
Responding to the sharp reaction of the Union government officials, the chief minister's office (CMO) issued a brief statement, stating, "Today, the CM's address was shared live because there has never been any instruction, written or verbal, from central govt that the said interaction could not be shared live."
"There have been multiple occasions of similar interactions where matters of public importance which had no confidential information were shared live. However, if any inconvenience was caused we highly regret that," the CMO added.
During the meeting, Arvind Kejriwal said the Centre should take over all oxygen plants through the Army and requested Modi to direct chief ministers of all states to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to the national capital.
"People in major pain due to oxygen shortage. We fear a big tragedy may happen due to oxygen shortage and we will never be able to forgive ourselves. I request you with folded hands to direct all CMs to ensure smooth movement of oxygen tankers coming to Delhi," he said during the meeting.
"We need a national plan to deal with the crisis. The Central government should take over all oxygen plants through the Army and every tanker coming out of the oxygen plant should be accompanied by an Army escort vehicle," he said.
"The oxygen supply scheduled to come to Delhi from Odisha and West Bengal should either be airlifted or brought through the Oxygen express started by the Centre," he said.
Kejriwal also objected to different rates being charged from state governments and the Centre for the COVID-19 vaccine, and said "one nation, one rate" policy should be followed.
PM Modi held a meeting on Friday with chief ministers of 10 states with the most number of COVID-19 cases.
The meeting via video conferencing comes amid a huge surge in coronavirus cases, which have now clocked a daily total of over 3 lakh in the country. Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi are among those who attended the meeting.