Cross-talk by ministers on Covid-19 was creating confusion
Speculation is rife over why Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has appointed Education Minister S Suresh Kumar to brief the media daily on Covid-19 related issues. One reason given is that the Covid-19 task force of ministers was not on the same page in giving out the number of suspected cases.
Secondly, soft-spoken Suresh Kumar has a media-friendly image. “This made him the perfect choice for the job,” said an observer.
The Covid-19 task force includes Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar (Covid-19 matters in-charge), Health Minister B Sriramulu and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The confusion began when the Deputy Chief Minister announced in the legislative council that more than 1 lakh people in Karnataka could be infected.
Besides, it was clear during media briefings that Health Minister Sriramulu had not been briefed properly by officials. Then, the Chief Minister appointed Dr Sudhakar as Covid-19 minister, which was opposed by Sriramulu.
Again, Dr Sudhakar contradicted the statement made by the Deputy Chief Minister of 1 lakh people getting infected and gave a figure of 65,000, while Sriramulu’s figure was 25,000.
Home Minister unhappy with official
Sources also say Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai was not happy with the media briefing by additional chief secretary (health) Jawaid Akhtar, who announced that 1,500 people had attended the Nizamuddin jamaat in Delhi without informing the cabinet ministers.
He has reportedly said, “Earlier I had briefed the media by saying around 50 people had attended the Nizamuddin meeting. Next day, Sriramulu came up with a number of 300 and in the evening IAS officer Akhtar mentioned 800. The next day he said 1,500 people had attended the congregation and were being traced.”
It is said that the Home Minister complained to the Chief Minister about Akhtar speaking directly to the media.
All these developments reportedly forced the CM to appoint Suresh Kumar to brief the media.