“I’m not against Swasthya Sathi card”: Dilip Ghosh

News Desk: Dilip Ghosh, who is the BJP state president in West Bengal, is known to be a staunch critic of the TMC government’s Swasthya Sathi scheme.

However, after reports emerged that his own family had become the beneficiary of the state government’s flagship healthcare scheme, Ghosh has changed his stanced and expressed wish to get himself covered by it.

“I’m not against Swasthya Sathi card. I’m against the fraudulent TMC government. If I get the chance, I’ll also apply for a Swasthya Sathi card,” Ghosh was quoted as saying.

The Medinipur MP asserted that without actual benefit the card was useless. He said, “I have a card but if I cannot avail treatment with it, what’s the point?”

News reports on Tuesday stated that Ghosh’s family in Jhargram district’s Gopiballavpur stood in queue like others to collect their Swasthya Sathi cards.

Family of Dilip Ghosh’s brother Hirak Ghosh, who is BJP’s chief in Gopiballavpur’s Block number two, was also present at the ‘Duare Sarkar’ camp.

Earlier, Ghosh had called the Swasthya Sathi scheme a bluff. He had alleged that the TMC-led West Bengal government did not have budget to materialise the claims made through the welfare programme.

“If out of the state’s 10 crore population even 5% seeks its benefits, it would cost the state’s exchequer of Rs 50,000 crore a year. But this year the state’s health budget is altogether Rs 12,000 crore. Where will money for Swasthya Sathi come from,” the BJP leader had said.

However, West Bengal health secretary Narayan Swarup Nigam had countered Ghosh by pointing at flaws in his numbers.

“First of all, 5% of the state’s population getting hospitalised is a highly exaggerated rate. Never do so many people get hospitalised at once. It may at most be around 1% of the population. And second, the national average for per person expenditure in hospitals is around Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000. So, it’s very much manageable and within our budget allocation,” Nigam said.

The Bengal government has been providing healthcare benefits under ‘Swasthya Sathi’ since 2016. But the scheme has made headlines as a part of the state’s ‘Duare Sarkar’ initiative — a mass outreach programme for doorstep delivery of welfare scheme benefits.