While a press conference was underway in Bihar's Muzaffarpur to figure out ways to cope up with the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) deaths in the state, the state Health Minister Mangal Pandey was so engrossed in the India and Pakistan match that he ended up asking about the latest score.
In a viral video that has been doing the rounds on the internet, Mangal Pandey asked, "How many wickets have fallen till now?"
The press conference was called by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan with Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on Sunday, June 16.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the AES case has reached 126. Around 300 children are currently undergoing treatment in local hospitals.
The controversy comes at a time when Ashwini Kumar Choubey was already facing criticism over photographs that showed him sleeping in another press conference which was held to address queries in Muzaffarpur.
However, he was quoted as saying on Monday that he wasn't sleeping but was in "deep thought" over ways to bring relief to those affected by the viral disease. "I also indulge in deep thought. I was not sleeping," he said.
Opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and the Left, have now demanded Mangal Pandey's resignation for displaying "insensitivity" at a time when the state was facing a major threat.
"Pandey was more interested in knowing the cricket score while Harsh Vardhan was telling media persons on the plans to alleviate the situation arising from the encephalitis outbreak," RJD leader Ram Chandra Purve reportedly said.
Pandey was also shown black flags by Hindustani Awam Morcha & Jan Adhikar Party Loktantrik supporters when he visited the patients undergoing treatment for heat wave related cases in Aurangabad on Monday.
A case was filed against Dr Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey in the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate's (CJM) court on Monday, on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of children due to AES.
Social activist Tamanna Hashmi filed the case, stating that Harsh Vardhan and Mangal Pandey failed to fulfill their duties to control the outbreak of AES, while both had done nothing to create awareness and sensitise people in the affected areas despite the fact that AES had been killing children for years.
The court has fixed June 24 for hearing the case.