New Delhi: Getting tough with AIIMS Director P Venugopal after he accused the Health ministry of interfering in the functioning of the premier institute, the Government has asked him to explain why he went public on the issue.
"A letter has been sent to Dr Venugopal asking his explanation. It was wrong on his part to go public and rake up the issue in public," Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told reporterson Wednesday.
The minister was speaking after a meeting of the AIIMS faculty, doctors and students he was scheduled to address was abruptly called off.
Ramadoss said the meeting would be held after two weeks.
"I have not cancelled the meeting. It has been postponed as 30 to 40 faculty members have gone on holiday. In two weeks, we will meet," Ramadoss said.
Asked whether he put off the meeting as some trouble was expected, Ramadoss said, "Absolutely not. It is my institute. I am part of the institute. I don't see any trouble. I want to address the faculty and students."
Venugopal last week accused the Health ministry of interfering in the affairs of AIIMS and threatened to quit, but Ramadoss rubbished the charge and said he had only acted as the institute's administration had become "ineffective".
Ramadoss met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and announced the setting up of a three-member panel headed by M S Valiathan, former director of Sri Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology in Kerala, to look into the functioning of AIIMS.
Ramadoss had also said the terms of reference for the panel would be finalised this week.
He alleged that for the last 20 years, AIIMS has not been functioning in the manner for which it was conceptualised.
There had been an exodus of doctors and not much research was taking place, he said.
"I am not in a position to openly acknowledge that," he said when asked if there was a decline in the functioning of AIIMS.
Asked why there was no representative from AIIMS in the three-member panel, Ramadoss said Valiathan was one of the most reputed doctors in the country and was fully capable of examining the issue.
Rejecting a suggestion of interference in the autonomy of the AIIMS, Ramadoss said, "I will be the last person to interfere with the autonomy of any institute. But at the same time, I will not shy away if I feel any institute is not functioning properly. The purpose of AIIMS is to serve poor patients."
Noting that Venugopal was a reputed doctor but that the AIIMS administration under him had not been functioning in the last two to three years, Ramadoss said, "I don't want to wash dirty linen in public."
To a question as to why the General Body of AIIMS was not convened, he said, "What is the need? Instead of a medical hub, AIIMS has been turned into a political hub - like some political party trying to play petty politics."
Rejecting a suggestion that he been "tough" with junior doctors by not releasing their salaries for the period when they had joined the anti-quota stir, Ramadoss said this was not a punitive action.