Blame everyone for turning India into a graveyard but not Prime Minister Modi?

Everybody except the Government and PM seem to be responsible for the public health disaster and the deaths, is the spiel. Bureaucrats, chief ministers, the poor and the ignorant…everyone but ‘us’?

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

Ranjona Banerji

The excuses have been flowing fast and free. Not just the usual “blame Nehru”, “blame Congress”, “blame Mahmud of Ghazi”, “blame Kejriwal”, “blame Uddhav Thackeray”, “blame Mamata Banerjee”, “blame the poor and the ignorant”, “blame the rich”, “blame everyone else but me” excuses, but more significantly, “We did not know about the second wave of Covid19 about to hit India”.

The fine art of lying, let us assume, is an essential characteristic of the politician. But some people, especially those who are ardent students of the master of the political like Joseph Goebbels, close associate of Adolf Hitler, take this art to its highest, most sublime levels. “We did not know”.

A powerful government, run by India’s most powerful prime minister ever, “did not know”.

According to a Reuters report: “A forum of scientific advisers set up by the government warned Indian officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country…”

“Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government did not seek to impose major restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Millions of largely unmasked people attended religious festivals and political rallies that were held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition politicians.”

We’re now in May 2021 and the virus and its mutants have taken hold. Rising cases everywhere, death everywhere, but medicines, oxygen and vaccinations either not to be found or drying up as I write this.

Why are we surprised though? From the prime minister downwards, the Narendra Modi government has consistently informed us that experts know nothing, “hard work is more important than Harvard” (a dig at rivals and experts alike), that Modi himself is so intelligent and ready to take charge that in fact we need no experts. It’s a bit rich now to blame bureaucrats when you either surround yourself with terrified yes men or you don’t listen.

And here we are in the grasp of a dangerous, spreading, uncontrolled pandemic thanks to both arrogance and stupidity. Modi crowed to a listening world at Davos at the end of January 2021 that India had defeated the pandemic and was vaccinating the world.

In March 2021, he and his government ignored its own expert committee about a second wave of Covid19 ready to peak in India. If you’re stacking up the lies, please add “hard work”. Because since 2014, the only hard work Modi has done has been to build up his image, spread sectarian and societal hatred and use both to increase the BJP’s footprint across India.

In an infamous election speech for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2017, Modi said that the state had more Muslim graveyards than Hindu crematoria and promised to make better provisions for Hindus. Now, Modi’s disgusting fan club is upset that the world has seen that India’s crematoria are forced to work overtime, many falling apart from overuse. Should a cynic argue that Modi has kept his promise? That India is now a giant burning ghat, a graveyard for all religions, ages, orientations? There’s no argument actually. That is what India has become. Thanks to a callous, self-obsessed criminally incompetent government.

Modi’s faithful flock of media followers report that the prime minister has told his ministers to be full of “compassion” as we fight this “once in a century crisis”. I cringe as I quote this absolute bilge. Because the dear PM has been so busy campaigning and posing for photoshoots that he hadn’t even noticed until now that we were gripped in this massive second wave of Covid19.

But I still haven’t understood one thing about our prime minister. From the time I first heard of him in 2001, I was told that Modi was an excellent administrator and organiser. He may have been a proper RSS bigot, full of hatred for Muslims, but he was an excellent pro-business administrator. In the past seven years, we’ve definitely seen his pro-business side or to be honest, pro-two business houses with scraps for a couple of others. Where’s the administrative side when it’s not planning elections and toppling state governments?

For the rest, there has been a series of wilfully disharmonious decisions and lies from Modi, resulting in chaos. And now death. The man who apparently knows everything, keeps it hidden as he prances around in self-glorification.

India dies in front of our eyes. Are we still happy with the lies?

(The writer is a senior commentator. Views are personal)

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Published: 02 May 2021, 12:00 PM