COVID calamity: A democratic govt is responsible to its people, but PM Modi does not bother about the people

The world had started preparing for a possible second COVID wave, but Modi and his aides were busy chalking out a strategy to win elections

COVID calamity: A democratic govt is responsible to its people, but PM Modi does not bother about the people

Arun Srivastava

Dr Navjot Dahiya, vice-president of the Indian Medical Association, has described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “super-spreader” of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, the blame for this devastating second wave lies squarely at the feet of Modi’s government. “While the medical fraternity is trying hard to make people understand mandatory COVID norms, Modi did not hesitate to address big political rallies tossing all COVID norms in the air,” he said.

Modi had, in fact, come to know about the shortage of oxygen in the beginning of April. But his yearning to defeat Mamata Banerjee and install a BJP government in West Bengal was so deep that he preferred to ignore the red flags.

Even Le Monde, the French newspaper, on Wednesday blamed the “arrogance and demagogy” of the Indian Prime Minister as much as the “unpredictability of the virus” for the deadly second wave of the pandemic in India. While the Indian media has been soft towards Modi and does not find any fault with him, the foreign newspapers are not impressed by the Indian foreign offices’ clarification. They are not willing to believe India’s claims and gave headlines like “Modi leads India into a viral apocalypse”.

Le Monde in its editorial pointed out: “The spectacle of lines of ambulances at the gates of overwhelmed hospitals, of sick people’s relatives begging in vain to obtain oxygen and of mass cremations does not lie. From cities to rural areas, from the rich to the poor, the carnage does not spare anyone.”

The editorial added: “Such a backfiring cannot be explained solely by the unpredictability of a virus and its variants. Narendra Modi’s lack of prediction, arrogance and demagogy are clearly among the causes of a situation that now seems out of control and requires international mobilisation. The Prime Minister, after paralysing and traumatising his country in 2020 by decreeing a brutal confinement, abandoning millions of migrant workers, completely lowered his guard at the beginning of 2021”.

The editorial tore apart Modi’s much publicised vaccine strategy, contending that the ‘vaccine diplomacy’ was subservient to his ambitions, ignoring the reality of the country’s production capacities. India looks like a war zone where people are losing their lives to the enemy. Things would have been different had the enemy's potential not been underestimated. The foreign media also takes jibes at Modi neglecting the threat perception.

While some claimed Indians had great immunity, others mocked western countries for not being able to contain something as small as a virus.

While the global fraternity after some easing out of the first wave of the attack had started preparing to combat the possible attack of the second wave, Modi and his aides were busy chalking out strategy to conquer India for transforming it into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. It was time to get geared up for the second wave, but Modi used this as the time to start his election campaign.

This approach of Modi simply underlined that he is insensitive to the miseries of people. His claim of being the Hindu Hriday Samrat (king of Hindu heart) also lies shattered on the streets of India. Corona has not targeted only Muslims; the major victims have been the Hindus.

His aversion to the miseries of people has its resonance in the behaviour of others, especially the bureaucrats. On Wednesday, a crying woman fell on the feet of a doctor in NOIDA to save her son, suffering with COVID. But the doctor pushed her aside and even threatened to get her arrested if she does not stop crying!

While people across the country were suffering, Modi at a rally in North Bengal expressed gratitude by saying that he had "never before seen such huge crowds in a rally". He cheered the crowd.

It is not that only the Central government has been in the denial mode, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, resorted to white lies by saying that his state does face shortage of oxygen and that action will be taken against hospitals spreading such ‘rumours’.

But the fact is almost all the crematoriums in the state are overflooded with bodies. People are using open spaces to build pyres. Crematorium workers complain that they are receiving at least 10 times more bodies than normal.

According to official figures, the virus has claimed more than 200,000 lives so far in India. The situation has reached such a stage that officials have been concealing deaths by under-reporting the numbers.

Modi’s attitude has been a shock for India's middle class, which perceived him as a messiah. They voted for him in huge numbers not once but twice. The slogan "Modi hai to mumkin hai" ("If Modi is there, anything is possible") still resonates with the Indian middle class.

They responded with full vigour to his call to light diyas and beat thalis last year. They carried out his diktat of clapping for nine minutes and holding lit candle. A democratic government is responsible to its people. But Modi does not bother about the people.

With Modi and his government not willing to come to the help of the people, this onerous task has been bestowed upon the judiciary. High Courts have adopted a proactive stance in the fight against corona.

The Delhi High Court rejected the Centre’s submission that the current oxygen supply to the national capital was sufficient and asked it to respond on Delhi government’s allegation that other states were getting more oxygen or almost equivalent to what they had demanded. The existing oxygen demand of Delhi is 704 metric tonnes as against the present allocation of 490 MTs.

The court said it is adopting a pan-India view and not suggesting that people in other states should suffer. “If as a matter of fact it is being put to you that the demand of a particular state was X and you have given them X + Y, then why have you not given that Y to Delhi when the demand of Delhi is more,” said the court.

The court sought to know why the number of infections in Delhi are increasing and questioned the Centre over failing to revise the previous oxygen allocation. The court also took exception to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s statement that oxygen can be taken from Madhya Pradesh and given to Delhi at the “cost of people’s lives” if the court desires.

(IPA Service)

Views are personal

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