An argument erupted on Friday between BJP MP Rajeev Pratap Rudy and Jan Adhikar Party chief Pappu Yadav after a fleet of ambulances were found unused – covered with tarpaulin and parked – on premises belonging to the Lok Sabha member from Bihar’s Saran.
Mr Yadav, who is also a former MP, has demanded to know why the ambulances were kept off the streets at a time when the district and state is battling a huge rise in Covid cases, and medical resources like ambulances, drugs and oxygen are in short supply.
“There are over 30 ambulances here. There were more earlier but they have been moved. Overall close to 100 ambulances were parked here. We want to know why they were not being used… this is not about Rudyji or Pappu… this is about Bihar and the people of Bihar,” Pappu Yadav said.
Mr Rudy, who holds the Saran constituency that was previously held by RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, hit back saying the ambulances were stationary because of a lack of drivers. He also wrote to the District Magistrate of Chhapra to ask for doctors who can drive the ambulances.
“There are not 60, 70 or 100 ambulances, but only 20. And they are not being used because we don’t have drivers. Pappu Yadav… you can take all the ambulances, but promise the people of Saran that you will find and employ drivers for all of them,” he said.
On Saturday visuals showed Mr Yadav surrounded by a large group of men holding up what appears to be driving licenses – the drivers he said he would arrange for the ambulances.
Friday visuals showed Mr Yadav striding onto land owned by Mr Rudy at his native village – Madhaura – in Bihar’s Saran district, and removing the covers of ambulances with labels ‘MPLADS-2019’.
MPLADS refers to Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme – a fixed sum of Rs 5 crore allotted to each MP every year to develop his or her constituency. The scheme, however, has been suspended by the centre since April last year, so funds can be redirected to fighting Covid.
Bihar reported over 13,000 new Covid cases and 62 deaths in the past 24 hours. The active caseload is more than 1.15 lakh mark, and over 3,000 people have died due to the virus.
On Wednesday Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the state – one of 10 states accounting for more than half of daily new cases, according to the centre – would go into lockdown till May 15.