In a new twist to the Bengaluru bribe-for-bed scam "exposed" by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, the alleged role of BJP MLA has come to light, with Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanding his immediate arrest.
Stepping up the attack on the ruling BJP, Congress and AAP on Thursday alleged that Satish Reddy, BJP MLA from Bommanahalli, had a role in the scam involving blocking of hospital beds meant for COVID patients in Bengaluru, New Indian Express reported.
The Congress party even alleged that South Bengaluru MP and BJP Yuva Morcha president Tejasvi Surya, who unearthed the scam, was also involved.
Prithvi Reddy, Karnataka unit of AAP, has filed a complaint with Banglore City Police against the BJP MLA, demanding his immediate arrest.
Accusing the hands of BJP leaders in the scam, Congress tweeted, "It's like pot calling the kettle black. The truth has come out now that the BJP leaders are behind the bed blocking scam."
It further said, "Arrest Satish Reddy who has been operating the bed booking scam with the help of his supporters, and the young MP (Tejasvi Surya) who accompanied him, and carry out a detailed investigation".
The big expose
At a press conference in Bengaluru on Tuesday, BJP's South Bengaluru MP Tejasvi Surya alleged that there was a "massive racket" active in the bed allotment system for COVID-19 patients of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which is governed by his party.
Surya accused members of the BBMP War Room of taking bribes in exchange for hospital beds.
Supported by BJP legislators, Surya alleged that beds were being booked under the names of asymptomatic patients recovering at home. According to him, over 4,000 previously blocked beds had been unblocked upon the payment of a bribe to BBMP employees.
Incidentally, Satish Reddy against whom the AAP leader has filed the complaint was present at Surya's press conference.
AAP's letter to Bengaluru Police Commissioner
In his complaint, state AAP convener Prithvi Reddy accused the Bomannahalli BJP MLA and his followers of blocking the hospital beds and ventilators in connivance with BBMP officials and alleged that 17 COVID-19 patients died due to the unavailability of beds caused by the scam in the city.
Terming Reddy as "kingpin" of the alleged scam, the AAP leader, in his complaint, demanded the arrest of "those involved including Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy whose involvement has been exposed by BBMP officials, media and other sources".
The Karnataka AAP chief filed the complaint with the Bommanahalli Police Station and shot off a letter to City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.
"It is not only the matter of corruption and criminal neglect of duty but a matter of loss of lives amounting to murder. Various high courts and the Supreme Court have held that denial of medical health (facilities) amounts to criminal negligence," Prithvi Reddy wrote in the letter to the City Police Commissioner.
The communal turn
Surya was accused of communalizing the issue by selectively targeting pointing to Muslims employees of BBMP.
Surya and his team of BJP legislators were accused of making communally charged statements against Muslims working in the War Room. Referencing a list of Muslim employees, Surya demanded that the recruitment rationale that led to their hiring be explained and that the employees reveal their qualifications.
BJP legislators Satish Reddy and Ravi Subramanya, who accompanied Surya at the press conference, said the BBMP War Room was dominated by Muslims and alleged that they had been hired intentionally.
However, only 17 out of the 205 employees in the War Room belong to the minority community.
On Thursday, Karnataka reported 49,058 fresh infections of COVID-19 -- 23706 cases in Bengaluru alone -- and 328 deaths, taking the number of patients under treatment to 5,17,075 and the death toll to 17,212.