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A hospital in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday (May 5) rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that it had refused to treat a patient carrying the Ayushman Bharat card, PTI reported.

At a rally in Madhya Pradesh, Modi had claimed that the man died after the hospital denied him treatment.

The hospital’s trustee is a person from the “naamdar family”, Modi had said in a jibe at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s family.

Gandhi is the Lok Sabha MP from Amethi, and is contesting for a re-election against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Smriti Irani.

“It is saddening that the poor man who was denied treatment died,” Modi had said. “The culprits behind the man’s death should be punished.”

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The controversy first erupted when Smriti Irani posted a video of the patient’s relatives making the allegation on her Twitter page. It showed a man saying that the staffers at the hospital had rejected his ailing uncle’s Ayushman Bharat card on the grounds that “the hospital belongs to Rahulji and not Yogi or Modi”. He also claimed that his uncle died on April 26 for want of medical assistance.

Smriti Irani’s caption for the video was scathing. “I have been left speechless. I never imagined that anybody could fall so low. They let a poor man die just because he held an Ayushman Bharat card and the hospital belonged to Rahul Gandhi,” it read.

SM Chaudhary, director of the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, told ANI that the patient could not be admitted as he did not bring the Ayushman Bharat card with him. “It is a baseless allegation,” Chaudhary said after Smriti Irani shared a video about the matter. “We have treated 200 patients under the scheme so far.”

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The hospital administration acknowledged that the man had died but denied claims that it had a political, religious or caste affiliation.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which is the health insurance programme under Ayushman Bharat, was launched in September. It aims to provide health insurance cover of upto Rs 5 lakh to 500 million poor families.

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