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As Covid peaks in Kerala, new Health Minister Veena George feels the heat

Journalist-turned-Kerala Health Minister Veena George is in the hot seat as Covid runs rampant in Kerala, with the state recording 50 per cent or more of the daily Covid cases in the country.

As Covid peaks in Kerala, new Health Minister Veena George feels the heat
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In her second term in the Assembly, the 45-year-old George faces a tough time with the Congress-led Opposition pinning her down in the house over Covid and also in the manner in which she responds to seasoned opposition legislators. 

The latest trouble for her -- and fodder for the opposition while upsetting the Indian Medical Association state unit -- came from the reply given by her the other day to an Assembly question. 

Responding to Congress legislator Mathew Kuzhalnadan's query, George said that incidents of attacks against doctors by the relatives of the patients have not come to her notice, that existing laws are sufficient to protect doctors, and the government is taking steps to spread awareness against such attacks. 

This answer became the hot topic of discussion both inside and outside the Assembly and on Friday, the last day of the present session, she placed a revised answer to the same question. 

Incidentally, there were at least two attacks against the doctors reported in the past 10 days and these became a big issue. Last month too, a few other incidents were reported. 

Taking part in a protest of doctors organised by the IMA at Ernakulam, a top association official on Friday said the minister's response is unacceptable and such a thing has never happened before. 

"We will be forced to stop all our work... six attacks have taken during her time and what she is saying does not augur well. I myself met her two times and the Chief Minister once. It is improper for a Minister to say that she was not aware of the attacks, when practically everyone knew about  it," said the top IMA official. 

The answer also came at a time when her office is on a spree of putting out quite a few daily press releases on what is happening in her department. 

A media critic, on condition of anonymity, said the biggest problem for George is she stepped into the shoes of K.K. Shailaja, who along with Vijayan, through their regular press meets managed to get huge publicity and even the world spoke about the Kerala Model for Covid containment in the first phase. 

"Just see the figures for the past several days... Kerala has become the Covid capital in the country. The very same figures which they (Vijayan and Shailaja) played with in the previous year are now hitting them very hard. Moreover, George is no politician when compared to Shailaja, who has several decades of experience in frontline politics," said the critic.

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