Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with the Chief Ministers of the 10 states worst hit by the deadly second wave of Covid on a day India touched a new record of 3.32 lakh Covid cases and 2,263 deaths in 24 hours.
In an interaction that was live on TV, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal highlighted the crippling oxygen crisis in hospitals in the capital.
“Please sir, we need your guidance,” Mr Kejriwal said to the Prime Minister.
“There’s a huge shortage of oxygen in Delhi. Will people of Delhi not get oxygen if there is no oxygen-producing plant here? Please suggest whom should I speak to in Central Govt when an oxygen tanker destined for Delhi is stopped in another state,” he said.
Mr Kejriwal urged PM Modi to facilitate the airlifting of oxygen from West Bengal and Odisha to resolve the shortage in Delhi Hospitals.
“PM Sir, please, do make a phone call to the Chief Minister of the state where maximum trucks (tankers carrying oxygen) are being stopped so oxygen can reach Delhi.” The Chief Minister called for a national policy to tackle the crisis.
Government sources said the interaction was not meant to be televised and accused Mr Kejriwal of “descending to a new low”.
“For the first time, private conversations of PMs meeting with CM is being televised. His entire speech was not meant for any solution but for playing politics and evading responsibility,” said the sources.
They also accused the Delhi Chief Minister of “yawning and laughing”” during a previous meeting on Covid with PM Modi.
Several Delhi hospitals have been flagging crises of oxygen, beds and medicines on social media and have even approached court for help.
The hospitals have been receiving oxygen after SOS calls but only for a short while, they say.