CHANDIGARH, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday ridiculed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for seeing a scam in the procurement of Covid Care Kits even before the kits were procured by the state government.
In their desperation to attack the government in Punjab, they seem to have lost all sense of proportion, said the Chief Minister, reacting to AAP MLA Aman Arora’s allegation of a scam in the kit procurement.
Arora’s scam accusation came even before the tender for procurement of the kits was finalised by the Health Department, Captain Amarinder pointed out, disclosing that the state government had eventually finalised the cost at Rs 748 per kit with Rs 360 (+GST) for Pulse Oximeter.
The AAP MLA had based his allegation on a rate list (which he had also sent to the Health Department) that actually listed only 13 items as against the 16 being procured for the government kit. Arora’s list made no mention of Capsule Vitamin D, Betadine gargles, and balloons, while sanitiser he listed out was of 100 ML in comparison with the 500 ML sanitiser that is being included in the government kit. Further, no liquid kadha is available in the market at Rs 10, said the Chief Minister, adding that AAP was perhaps making some kadha on their own and marketing in Delhi.
Terming Arora’s scam allegation preposterous, the Chief Minister said by alleging a scam in procurement that had not even taken place, the AAP MLA had exposed the party’s strategy of unleashing baseless negative propaganda against his government.
“You have shown that you will stoop to any level to further your political agenda in Punjab, going to the extent of making totally unsubstantiated and false allegations against my government,” he remarked, adding that the people of Punjab will not be taken in by these theatrics and false campaigns of AAP.
At the time of announcing the free kits for people in home and hospital isolation, the Chief Minister said he had merely given an estimated price based on the market costs of various items. The market prices, however, keep fluctuating, which Arora seems to be either oblivious of, or chose to deliberately ignore in order to mislead the people, he added.
The Rs 1700 estimate announced earlier by him was based on the cost at which the Punjab Police had been procuring such kits in small numbers from local markets, as per their requirement, against the market price of Rs 4000, per kit, Captain Amarinder disclosed. The procurement process is tender-based, which he had clearly mentioned in his announcement, he further pointed out, adding that the final price which the state government eventually got for the kit turned out to be much lower. And as already announced, these will be distributed free of cost to all Covid patients in hospital and home quarantine, he added.
But Arora was in such a hurry to spread misinformation that he did not bother to wait for the government to finalise the tender, the Chief Minister said, adding that false propaganda seemed to have become AAP’s political strategy. The arrest of an AAP activist recently for spreading a fake video on Covid organ harvesting shows the extent to which these people will go to promote their petty political interests in Punjab, he added.
In fact, said the Chief Minister, given the low price of bulk procurement that the government has managed to get for the kits, even the Oxymeters his government had decided to make available through approved vendors on a no-profit-no-loss basis will probably be sold at a cost lower than the Rs 514 he had announced yesterday. Pointing out that even Pulse Oximeters were available in the market across a range of prices, Captain Amarinder said as per his information, they were being sold in Delhi, which is under AAP rule, from Rs 700 to Rs 3000. In contrast, the cost finalised for Oximeter in the kit was Rs 360 plus GST.
Reacting to Arora’s suggestion that the Punjab government should tackle the Covid pandemic on the lines of Delhi government under Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister said the MLA was either totally unaware of the situation in his state or did not know what was happening in the national capital, which was breaking records in daily spike of cases for the past nearly a week.