Exactly a month after directing his staff to visit Karnataka Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil's house to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, the health officer of Hirekerur taluk, Z.R. Makandar, has been suspended by the state's Health and Family Welfare Department.
After conducting a thorough inquiry into the matter, K.V. Trilok Chandra, the Commissioner of the Health and Family Welfare Department, suspended Makandar citing dereliction of duty and violation of the guidelines issued by the Union government.
Patil represents the Hirekerur Assembly constituency in Haveri district in Karnataka, which is around 330 km from Bengaluru. He is one of the 17 legislators who had defected from the Congress and the JD(S), paving the way for the BJP to form government in the state in 2019.
BJP min gets vax at home
It all started on March 2, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the Covid Vaccination Drive 2.0 in the country by taking the vaccine shot at the AIIMS in New Delhi.
On the same day, a team of health officials from the Hirekerur taluk visited Patil's house and administered him the first jab, which was against the guidelines issued by the Central government pertaining to the inoculation drive.
"Took the #COVID19Vaccine with my wife, at my Hirekerur house from the government doctors today. While 'Made In India' vaccines are being immensely appreciated by many countries, some vested interest groups are spreading false information about the vaccines," Patil had tweeted then with a photograph of him taking the vaccine shot.
Minister faces netizens' ire
As his photo soon went viral on social media, many people criticised the minister and the health department.
But Patil in his defence maintained that he did not commit any crime, and wanted to avoid trouble for the public. "Have I done any theft or robbery? I have only taken the vaccine at home, which is not a crime," the minister had told reporters.
He had said that it was good that his inoculation became public, which would inspire others to take the shot, adding that had he gone to the hospital, it would have caused trouble for the people waiting there.
Later, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry sought a detailed report on the matter along with an explanation from the taluk health officer.
The health department then came to know that the health officer of Hirekerur taluk, following request from the minister, had decided to send his staff to the latter's house without consulting any higher authorities.
Incidentally, five members of the minister's family were diagnosed with Covid-19 in July 2020, including Patil, his wife and his son-in-law, who were put under home isolation.
(With inputs from IANS)