Union Minister Prahlad Patel was caught on camera today threatening to slap a man pleading with him for oxygen for his Covid positive relative.
“We are so desperate…We did not get cylinders…Why don’t they just tell us we can’t give you oxygen,” a man complains to the minister outside a hospital in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh.
Prahlad Patel is the BJP Lok Sabha MP representing Damoh.
“Aise bolega toh do khayega (If you talk like this you will get two slaps),” Mr Patel snaps as he asks the man to calm down.
The man starts weeping: “Yes, that is what I will get. My mother is lying there.”
The Minister cuts in again: “Did anyone deny you an oxygen cylinder?” The man replied, “Yes, they refused. We only got one for five minutes. It’s better that you outright say no.”
The incident took place outside the Damoh district hospital, a dedicated Covid facility where relatives of patients had looted oxygen cylinders on Tuesday. Visuals had shown angry relatives snatching cylinders and ransacking an oxygen storeroom.
In a statement after the incident, the Madhya Pradesh government had claimed that it had surplus oxygen.
Damoh district has 3,320 active Covid cases. The number of cases rose by 101 in the last 24 hours.
Madhya Pradesh has enforced restrictions and curfew in several cities as it battles a steep rise in virus cases. For weeks, Damoh remained an exception as politicians campaigned in the city for assembly by-polls on April 17, addressing crowded meetings.
Mr Patel oversaw the campaign, which continued unabated even when Madhya Pradesh saw Covid cases surge past 10,000.