Not The Time To Criticise Govt Or Seek Details About Corona Fight, Subroto Bagchi Tells Media

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Odisha Government drew flak for releasing confusing corona positive figures pertaining to Bhubaneswar, Chief Spokesperson on COVID-19 Subroto Bagchi here on Thursday took a swipe at the media, asking it not to engage in “ball-by-ball
commentary” like a cricket match.

“Do not to look at this pandemic as an IPL cricket match and expect ball-by-ball account of the situation arising out of the outbreak,” he said. “While watching cricket matches we want ball-by-ball analysis, action replay and slow motion. But this is not cricket, but a game of COVID,” said Bagchi, who has been drawing parallels of the corona outbreak with Lord Jagannath’s anasara (a period of His annual sickness), Ramayana, Mahabharata and cricket ever since he donned the mantle of government’s spokesperson in mid-March.

The state government will provide all ‘usable data’ pertaining to the outbreak to the public every day, he told a ‘press briefing’ at Geeta Gobinda Sadan, which is being aired live daily at 4.30 pm for the past few weeks but journalists are not allowed to be attend it. Unlike the
central government’s media briefing, where attending journalists ask questions, the Odisha government’s ‘press briefing’ is a one-sided communication with a ‘no questions asked’ approach seemingly serving its purpose quite well.

Bagchi’s indirect dig at the media, which he claimed was in “public interest” came a day after the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhury was compelled to clarify after the administration, for reasons best known to it, reduced the corona positive cases in Bomikhal and showed those as Satya Nagar cases. How and why it happened is something the government is yet to explain.

Bagchi made no reference of the Bhubaneswar cases, but said, “In an emergency situation, it is neither possible nor correct to give detailed information.”

He took another veiled shot at the media, especially TV channels, and said, “This is not the time for criticism or analysis. During normal times we look for sensational news. We dig
for stories. But now we have to be responsible. This is not the time to park OB vans near COVID Hospitals and testing labs.”

Bagchi, who has apparently become the face of the Odisha government during the corona pandemic with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik limiting his public interactions to videos and ministers almost missing in action, said the government is committed to make public all relevant and factually correct information on COVID-19, but only at an appropriate time.

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