BJP MP Tejasvi Surya on Monday faced tough questions on allegations of targeting 17 Muslim employees at a Covid war room in Bengaluru and avoided answering most of them.
Last week, after the Bengaluru South MP revealed details of a “bed-blocking scam” in his party-controlled civic body BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palik), a video exposed a communal twist to the allegations.
In the video, Tejasvi Surya was seen at a BBMP Covid war room with three BJP MLAs, grilling officials. He read out a list of 17 Muslim names (from a total of 205 employees) and questioned: “Who are all these people? First shift, second shift, night shift. 17 people in the list in three shifts. What was the process of hiring? 17 people. Who are these people?”
Mr Surya’s uncle and BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya shouted, “Have you appointed them for the madrassa or for the Corporation?” Another MLA said to a woman official, “Who is this person, Madam? How can he appoint 17 members like a Haj committee?”
The 17 people named had to go to the police station twice.
Mr Surya, who did nothing to stop the communal comments, said today he only read out a list that was given to him.
“This was the list that was given. I questioned why they were appointed, how they were appointed, what was the process of appointing. The video is there. You can get the verbatim from the video. You should ask the officers why it was made,” he said, when asked why he picked Muslim names.
He was also asked why he allowed the MLAs to make communal comments.
“I did not use any words (like Haj, Madrassa). Please hold me accountable for my actions and my words,” he said, silent when journalists pointed out that he was responsible for comments made by his party colleagues in his presence.
“You may have your agenda. My agenda is very clear. My agenda is to tell the truth. My agenda is to save lives. I have answered this question,” Mr Surya said, pursing his lips.
Why were the 17 people he named questioned by the police, the MP was asked.
His reply remained evasive: “Any other questions?”
Mr Surya tried to stonewall any questions by declaring: “I have answered truth and claims. The people of Bengaluru want to know answers about getting beds. I will say it again. I didn’t attribute any criminality to them (the 17). They were temporary workers with this agency. Hiring or firing them is not the work of Tejasvi Surya. It is the work of BBMP. Why were they removed? Ask BBMP.”
“The people will decide whether getting beds for those who are dying is more important or derailing this entire issue – over the last three days, 100 hours, people have watched, the people will decide. My commitment is to my people. The bed number that comes for patients doesn’t consider caste or religion. My conscience is clear that I have completed my duty to my people,” he announced, leaving key questions unanswered.