COVID-19 in Bihar: As bodies lie unattended in hospitals, BJP-JDU leaders spar over Rahul Gandhi’s tweet 

Instead of addressing the issue that Rahul Gandhi has raised, the BJP-JDU leaders have questioned the very right of the Congress leader to speak on the state of affairs in Bihar

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Nalin Verma

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that the COVID-19 situation in Bihar was critical and that bodies lying unattended in hospitals in the state exposed its claim of susashan (good governance) are based on media reports.

But the manner in which the BJP and second rung JDU leaders have reacted to it has put a big question mark on the political culture that the ruling leaders have adopted of late. They have questioned the very right of the Congress leader to speak on the state of affairs in Bihar.

The English translation of Rahul Gandhi’s tweet in Hindi is: “The Corona pandemic-triggered situation in Bihar is critical; it has slipped beyond the control of the state government. The unattended bodies lying in the hospital wards expose the claim of the good governance of Bihar”. The tweet tagged a newspaper report which was based on TV footage.

But instead of addressing the issue that Rahul has raised, the Bihar deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi said, “Rahul Gandhi should think of the tag of the political tail that his party carries in Bihar”. The BJP spokesman, Nikhil Anand said, “Rahul is spreading verbal corona in India”.

The JDU spokesman, Rajeev Ranjan said, “He (Rahul) should first go and assess the situation in the Congress-ruled state”.

It appears that the JDU has forgotten that the Bihar electorate had given the mandate to the Congress-RJD-JDU Grand Alliance in 2015 to govern the state and Nitish Kumar started off his third term as CM of the alliance which the Congress was very much part of. Had he not ditched the people’s mandate by switching over to the BJP, Bihar still would have ruled by the Congress and its allies.

“The BJP has been reduced into a mentally bankrupt herd under the stewardship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. It’s sad to see the JDU — the party rooted to liberal and accommodative political culture of Bihar — too speaking in the Modi-Shah lingo,” Congress working president and MLC Sameer Singh said.

Sameer is a third generation Congress leader. His family has a history of over 106 years of unwavering association with the Indian National Congress. His grandfather, Banarsi Prasad Singh — a freedom fighter — was the first MP from Munger in 1951, and he went on to win the seat for three consecutive terms. Sameer’s father, Rajendra Singh was a minister in 1980s in Congress-ruled Bihar. Despite Congress going through a rather bad phase, Sameer has stuck to his family tradition.

“The BJP has degenerated into a lot of rabble rousers who are devoid of the niceties of the political language. How can one question Rahul Gandhi or for that matter any Opposition leader questioning the governance in a state? It’s the Opposition’s basic duty to question the governments,” Sameer said.

To be fair to Nitish Kumar, he has, so far, not reacted to Rahul’s tweet. It is not known how seriously the Bihar CM has taken Rahul’s tweet but he, at least, has not joined his deputy Sushil Modi and his spokesman Rajeev in questioning the former Congress president’s right to question his governance.

There are glaring examples to suggest that what Rahul has spoken about the COVID-19 situation in Bihar is based on empirical facts. Apart from the newspaper clipping that Rahul has attached with his tweet, the state recently witnessed the death of Umesh Razak, a deputy secretary in Bihar’s Home department, due to grave negligence.

Razak had gone to Ranchi in connection with official work. On his return journey, he fell ill with a suspected COVID-19 infection on July 8. His family members took him to IGIMS, Patna which collected his blood samples. The report came after five days of sample collection, showing that he was COVID-19 positive. The IGIM sent him to NMCH which refused to admit Razak, whose situation kept on deteriorating. Then his family members took him to AIIMS Patna on July 13.

Razak battled with life and death for the whole night in AIIMS. Eventually, he was admitted but died within a few hours of admission at the AIIMS on July 14.

Razak was a government employee with an important department under the Chief Minister himself. It’s simply bone-chilling to imagine the plight of common patients in the state which has nearly 30,000 COVID-19 patients now when the employee of a deputy secretary rank died unattended.

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Published: 22 Jul 2020, 5:08 PM