Congress slams one-upmanship between Goa CM, minister

Panaji, April 1
The internal power struggle and one-upmanship between Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane is derailing Goa's efforts to combat COVID-19, the Congress on Wednesday alleged.

The criticism from the opposition party comes a day after Health Minister Vishwajit Rane outrightly rejected Chief Minister's claim, that a virology lab set up by his ministry to test COVID-19 samples had crashed because of technical issues.

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"This internal power struggle between the CM and the Health Minister is responsible for the panic in Goa and hampering efforts to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. We demand that Sawant and Rane keep their politics aside and do not confuse the people. They seem to have no concern for the pandemic and are in a game of one-upmanship," Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello told reporters here.

On Tuesday evening, after the Indian Council for Medical Research-endorsed virology lab developed snags 24 hours after it was inaugurated, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told a press conference that the lab had stopped functioning due to "technical reasons" and a team of experts was trying to get it back on track.

Within hours, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane rejected the Chief Minister's claim and insisted that the lab was functional and COVID-19 testing samples had been processed on Tuesday.

"Such confusion raises issues about the authenticity of the tests being conducted at the lab. The CM should come out as to whose statement is correct. If the statement of the Health Minister is incorrect, it is high time the portfolio is taken away from him," D'Mello said.

This is not the first time the state Health Ministry has goofed up in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. On March 18, Rane said that a Norwegian national had tested COVID-19 positive in Goa, only to retract the statement moments later, blaming a hoax call for the error.

Rane, who has recently joined the BJP, continues to be an aspirant for the Chief Minister's chair and was in the reckoning for the top slot, after the death of former Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar last year.