New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not fulfilling his promise of constructing a super specialty hospital in Odisha, triggering a sharp reaction from Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi accused the prime minister of playing an "April Fools' day joke" on the people of the eastern state, as Modi made the promise during a public function on April 1, 2015, after assuming office.
Gandhi urged the people to support the Congress in raising funds for the hospital and "shame" the prime minister for not keeping his promise.
The party also launched an online public funding campaign and has set a target of Rs 20 lakh for upgrading the hospital.
"On 1st April, 2015 the PM played an April Fools' Day joke on the people of Orissa, as seen in this video. The Congress party has begun a fund raise to shame the PM into keeping the promise he made. Please contribute generously," Gandhi said on the microblogging site along with sharing a link to the public funding. The Congress chief also put out a video of the prime minister's speech made on April 1, 2015.
On 1st April, 2015 the PM played an April Fools' day joke on the people of Orissa, as seen in this video. The Congress party has begun a fund raise to shame the PM into keeping the promise he made. Please contribute generously using this link: https://t.co/zQDHuIMFJn pic.twitter.com/CGM8we9AJ6
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 23, 2018
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, however, called Gandhi's claim 'a new lie' manufactured by his 'Fake News Factory'.
He said Rs 200 crore had been allotted for the hospital and a detailed project report submitted, 'but when has Rahul ever bothered about facts.'
.@RahulGandhi’s Fake News Factory manufactures a new lie.
Rs 200 crore has been allotted for the Hospital & DPR has been submitted, but when has Rahul ever bothered about facts!
After all kinds of scams, interesting to see a new scam in the form of fund-raising. https://t.co/DplWdT0OC1
— Dharmendra Pradhan (@dpradhanbjp) June 23, 2018
Seeking to corner the central dispensation under Modi over the issue, the Gandhi scion mentioned Odisha resident Muktikanta Biswal, who reportedly walked 1,350 km to the national capital to remind the prime minister of his poll promise.
The Congress said on its website, "On April 1, 2015 (Yes, April Fool's day!), Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a super specialty hospital during his first visit to Odisha after he became the Prime Minister.
"These were still early days for Mr Modi in office and the people of Odisha believed him. But things did not move on the ground and not a single patient has received any treatment yet," it said.
"Now, after waiting for three full years, Muktikanta Biswal decided to do something about this. He picked up the Indian flag, and started his march from Odisha to Delhi to remind the PM about his forgotten promise," the party said.
The Congress urged the people to contribute generously towards upgrading the medical facility in Odisha.
"We, the people can make up for this betrayal. We can show him that there is still hope and we as a country are ready to support each other, even if our PM doesn't," it added.
Dharmendra Pradhan ridiculed the Congress call for funds."After all kinds of scams, interesting to see a new scam in the form of fund-raising," he tweeted.