The death toll due to encephalitis has gone up in Bihar, and in Muzaffarpur district alone, a reported 127 children have died from the disease. The Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreak in the state since June 1 is showing no signs of abating, and with several problems plaguing the public health sector, former union minister and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha is holding Chief Minister Nitish Kumar responsible for the deaths.

Talking to reporters at his party office in Patna on Sunday, Kushwaha, while demanding the resignation of Kumar, pointed out the deplorable condition of health services in the state.

“Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is responsible for children’s deaths in large number in Muzaffarpur district…Despite so many deaths of children, the state government has not taken any concrete action to prevent it. The entire health services have been left at God’s mercy,” Kushwaha said.

“Mr Chief Minister, mere assurance (to improve things) will not serve the purpose. Either you act or resign from the post of CM, failing which the RLSP would hit the roads to expose him (Nitish) for his failures,” he stated.

The AES outbreak, which according to the state health department has affected about 20 out of the 40 districts in the state, has afflicted more than 600 children since June 1.

Kushwaha, who was accompanied by the party’s national general secretary, cited the state government’s data to drive home his point that the government has failed to fill up all the sanctioned posts of doctors in the state.

Against the sanctioned posts of 7,249 regular doctors in the state, only 3,146 doctors are currently working in government hospitals and 533 contractual doctors are working against 2,314 contractual posts in the state, he said.

“How will the health care system improve with 3,679 doctors working in the state against the total sanctioned posts of 9,563 doctors (including regular and contractual doctors)?” he asked.

When pointed out that Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has not spoken anything on the issue of the children’s deaths, Kushwaha alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, who is also the Home Minister, also did not express their sorrow or grief over the loss of so many lives.

“This shows their insensitivity,” he added.

With Inputs From PTI