Congress, RJD defend Nitish on AES deaths

Former Bihar Finance Minister and senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, besides Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh, defended Nitish and blamed a select group of media for deliberately targeting the Chief Minister so that the skin of H

Under fire over the death of 154 children in Bihar due to suspected acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday found unexpected support from two erstwhile allies - Congress and RJD.

The two Opposition parties in Bihar Assembly on Monday defended Nitish while demanding the resignation of BJP leader and Health Minister Mangal Pandey for the tragic deaths of children.

When Pandey rose to defend himself in the Assembly, the Opposition boycotted the House proceedings. However, when Nitish started to respond on the issue of AES deaths, the Opposition returned to the House.

Former Bihar Finance Minister and senior RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui, besides Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sadanand Singh, defended Nitish and blamed a select group of media for deliberately targeting the Chief Minister so that the skin of Health Minister Mangal Pandey (from BJP) could be saved.

Demanding the resignation of Pandey, the Opposition leaders blamed the previous BJP leaders too who earlier served as Health Ministers in the State ever since NDA came to power in 2005.

Nitish, who was present in the House, broke his silence on AES deaths and said, “What happened is extremely unfortunate. Expressing grief is not enough. It’s an extremely serious issue. We have held several meetings on the issue.”

The Chief Minister dwelt at length how he, as CM, held discussions with experts and senior doctors on AES deaths way back in 2015 at AIIMS, Patna. “In the meeting, various experts had different views on the cause of deaths of children every year. A report was even sent to the US to get an expert opinion on it, but all had different views,” said Nitish.

He admitted that all the hospitals were not fully equipped to tackle such situation but the Government was undertaking measures to ensure cure as well as prevention. “For this, we have ordered socio-economic survey of such families who become victim of this mysterious disease,” he added.  

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