On Thursday (May 21), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik sparked controversy after revealing that a few journalists asked him to reduce the number of Covid-19 tests in Maharashtra. He claimed that the suggestion had come in the backdrop of the rising Coronavirus cases in the State.
In an interview with AajTak, he informed how a few ‘unnamed’ journalists had wanted the NCP to reduce the number of tests in order to avoid a public backlash over increasing Covid-19 cases. At about 3:09 minutes into the conversation, Nawab Malik said, “Maharashtra had the highest number of cases since Day 1. And we were way ahead of others in terms of cases, even at the peak of the virus’ virality. But you would never see anyone not finding a bed or moving around with an oxygen cylinder in hand.”
“When we were increasing the pace of Coronavirus tests, we began receiving phone calls from some journalists. They had asked us to decreased Covid-19 testing as the number of cases in the State was increasing. (They had even told us) that the rising cases were bringing ridicule for the Maharashtra government. But, since we did our work seriously, this has become our strength,” he concluded.
Netizens react to the sensational claims of Nawab Malik
Following his remarks, several Twitter users have demanded that the NCP leader expose such journalists. Popular Twitter user @BefittingFacts informed, “Hello Nawab Malik, can you tell the name of journalists who ask to slow down testing?”
BJP social media Cell member Pallavi wrote, “Will Nawab Malik tell us who are these “patrakar sathi” who were “advising” him to TEST LESS to avoid negative publicity? Testing fast is the best way to control this pandemic- those who are giving such advice must be treated like criminals & booked under Epidemic Diseases Act.”
Will Nawab Malik tell us who are these “patrakar sathi” who were “advising” him to TEST LESS to avoid negative publicity?— Pallavi (@pallavict) May 21, 2021
Testing fast is the best way to control this pandemic- those who are giving such advice must be treated like criminals & booked under Epidemic Diseases Act pic.twitter.com/FQ49Ixv32p
Similarly, several netizens asked the minister to reveal the names of the journalists who had asked to reduce the number of Covid-19 tests in Maharashtra.
Earlier, in an RTI filed by activist Vivek Pandey, it was revealed that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra wrote a letter to PM in the last week of August 2020 and did not communicate with him until the first week of April 2021. By that time, the state was under the immense pressure of the second wave already. In between, it was the Central Government that had approached the Maharashtra Government in March 2021 to be on high alert as the state was on the brick of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. As of May 21, Maharashtra has reported 3,85,785 active cases and a total of 85,355 fatalities.