MUMBAI: Maharashtra Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has alleged the state government was harassing a supplier of Remdesivir from neighbouring union territory Daman because BJP leaders had approached him for supply of the antiviral medication to the state.
Speaking to reporters late on Saturday night, Fadnavis said: “Daman-based Bruck Pharma Pvt Ltd was one of the exporters of Remdesivir, whom we (BJP leaders) had contacted to supply the stock to Maharashtra as the state is facing shortage of Remdesivir vials. We have even informed the state FDA minister (Rajendra Shingne) about it and approached the union government seeking necessary permissions.”
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Pravin Darekar and MLC Prasad Lad few days ago went to Daman to meet the officials of Bruck Pharma, requesting them to sell their exportable stock into Maharashtra, Fadnavis said.
“They were told by the company that if the centre and state approve it, they will sell their entire stock to Maharashtra,” he said.
“Union Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandviya has also given necessary orders enabling the sale of exportable stock of Remdesivir in Maharashtra. However, I was shocked to find (out) that one of the OSDs (officer on special duty) of the state FDA Minister had contacted the owner of Bruck Pharma and allegedly threatened him, over him approaching the centre on the suggestions of BJP leaders,” Fadnavis said.
He said such behaviour cannot be tolerated.
When contacted, a senior state police official said, “A director of a pharma company, which supplies Remdesivir, was questioned by the police in connection with the stock of the vials.”
“On the specific information, police apprehended the pharma company director at Vile Parle in Western Suburbs,” an official said.
“He is a manufacturer and was in the business of exporting the Remdesivir vials,” he said.
“After the export was banned, he had stocked at least 60,000 vials. The state and central government has given him permission to sell it in the market,” he said.
“As there was not any violation, Mumbai police did not take any legal action against him. He was questioned about the stock, following which he produced necessary documents,” the official said.
After getting information on the development, BJP leaders, including Fadnavis and Darekar, rushed to the Bandra Kurla Complex around midnight to meet Deputy Commissioner of Police in this connection.
The political slugfest started on Saturday morning when State Minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged the Centre was pressurising some Remdesivir producers to not sell their stock in Maharashtra.
Joining state BJP leaders, two central ministers hit back at the Maharashtra government, calling these allegations “a lie” and termed them an attempt to politicise the pandemic.
Fadnavis, who was holding meetings in hometown Nagpur, flew to Mumbai and joined his party colleagues who got wind of the state FDA taking action against Remdesivir suppliers having exportable stock of the vials.
The meeting went on for an hour at Vile Parle police station.
Speaking to reporters later, Fadnavis said, “Malik and some ministers have nothing to do with the troubles of people suffering from coronavirus pandemic. They are more interested in indulging in politics.”
“Malik even spread false information and tried to set a narrative against the union government. Even Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya asked Malik to prove his claims, he could not do so. Every state department has now come up with similar instructions of asking the companies to sell their Remdesivir stock in its jurisdiction. It is a known procedure,” he said.
“This is the time when centre and state should work in tandem, but few ministers are more interested in playing politics,” he said.
“We have even helped the Bruck Pharma to get tied up with Dr Reddy’s Lab so that they could sell their stock in the local market. But the head of Bruck Pharma was threatened by an OSD. We have the call recording of the OSD as well,” he alleged.
“Around 9 pm, some 10 police officers went to his home and detained the official of Bruck Pharma. When we showed police the letters of the permissions to Bruck Pharma of permission to sell it in Maharashtra, the police claimed that they had no clue of such a document even existed. Now the director of Bruck Pharma is released by the police,” Fadnavis said.
“Minister Mandviya had even suggested the company to sell its entire stock in Maharashtra. But some politicians are playing politics over it,” he said.