Tejasvi Surya, BJP MP of Bengaluru South, alleges big scam in the allotment of COVID-19 beds, targets Muslim workers in BBMP’s COVID War Room

Published : May 05, 2021 19:43 IST

Tejasvi Surya (centre) at BBMP’s South Zone War Room along with three other MLAs on May 4. Photo: The Hindu Archives

In a widely shared video that was originally made available on the Facebook page of Tejasvi Surya yesterday, the young BJP MP of Bengaluru South along with three other BJP MLAs can be seen haranguing Thulasi Maddineni, the Special Commissioner in charge of the South Zone of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). In the video, Surya barges into the South Zone COVID War Room alleging that there was a huge scam in the allocation of COVID beds under the BBMP quota. The three other BJP MLAs accompanying him include his uncle Ravi Subramanya, Uday Garudachar and Satish Reddy and they also join in the public dressing down of the senior bureaucrat.

In the midst of this, a young Muslim dentist who is present in the room (he gives his name as Rehan) is also summoned and lambasted. Surya then questions Maddineni about the process involved in the recruitment of members of the COVID War Room and reads out a list of sixteen names, all Muslims, of the South Zone COVID War Room insinuating that there was a communal motive. Ravi Subramanya accuses Maddineni and Rehan of recruiting only Muslims and then yells, “Is this a madrasa or the Haj Committee that you have recruited only these people?” Pointing at Rehan, Subramanya says, “Have you recruited members of your family?” Later, the four public representatives also addressed a press conference alleging massive irregularities in the process of bed allotment.

According to the full list of contractual staff working at the South Zone COVID War Room, there are 205 staff members, of which Surya picked only the 16 (out of 17) Muslim names.

While Surya was lauded widely for the moral high ground that he took, embarrassing his own party that is in power in the State which also controls the activities of the BBMP, the right-wing social media space simultaneously exploded with the post: “List of terrorists working in BBMP War Room killing thousands of Bengalurians”. It was followed by the 16 names that Surya had read out in the video. The name of BBMP Joint Commissioner Sarfaraz Khan was also added to the list and he was accused of being the officer who recruited these “terrorists”.

New evidence that has emerged today shows that Tejasvi Surya’s intention was only to communalise what may have been a genuine grievance in the process of bed allotment. Two people were arrested yesterday, identified only as Rohit and Netra, for brokering BBMP COVID beds by charging between Rs.25,000 and Rs.50,000 for each bed.

Addressing a press conference today, Syed Naseer Hussain, Ballari Rajya Sabha MP from the Indian National Congress, said that Surya displayed “gutter class mentality” by choosing to target only the Muslims who were working in the COVID War Room. “Can he not read? If you see the list of the staff, there are 205 names here and he picks only the Muslim names? Doesn’t he have any decency? He has a track record of making communal statements,” Hussain said.

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