By Sushil Kutty

 Finally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to the airwaves and addressed the pathetic and sad state of Covid-India. Some say he was goaded by Wayanad Congress MP Rahul Gandhi who nudged him with the statement “I’m no longer going to address election rallies”, and ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who wrote to  the Prime Minister and asked Modi to look at the whole Covid thing with a fresh pair of eyes instead of electoral-dust-blanked blinkers.

The most generous reading of Modi’s transformation was “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally come to his senses.” Till then millions of Indians were wondering and speculating if India had a Prime Minister! Electoral politics had been playing havoc with Covid-appropriate-behaviour and Narendra Modi was leading from the front, donning the Pied Piper’s hat, leading mesmerized folks up the garden path while Covid numbers went from good, to bad and then ugly!

 April 20, 10 minutes short of 9 pm, Modi shucked his God-given apathy and addressed Covid-nation Hindustan. Turned out Modi was waiting for Ram Navami to come. And Kumbh Mela to lose steam. Could be he would have waited for even May 2, the every-vote-for-Modi (EVM) day. At least that’s what people are speculating. That is, those who aren’t dying from Covid-19, or suffocating from Covid-induced lack of oxygen.

 People who Modi now wants to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, when he himself was giving the impression of flouting every Covid-appropriate behavioral rule in the Coronavirus Survival Book. And, now, he has set up the Centre against the states, by asking the states to consider “complete lockdown” only as a last resort. This when every other state except Uttar Pradesh was contemplating some form and degree of lockdown to fight the deadly second wave.

 Maharashtra, in particular, was talking of a complete and total lockdown. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called a meeting of his ministers April 20 and they in turn left the final decision to him. In the meantime came Modi’s speech. Quite unlike in 2020, when he had rung in a nationwide lockdown with a banging of cooking utensils, this time around he wants no immediate and total lockdown.

 Apparently, Modi does not want migrant workers to lose jobs and be forced to take the long and winding road home, like in 2020. But, didn’t he know that half the migrant workers had already left distant lands for distant homes while he was busy addressing Mamata’s castaways in West Bengal, unmindful of the free-run given to Covid-19? Did he not know that people were in panic mode with the second wave of the pandemic turning out to be a tsunami?

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have known that migrant workers everywhere had been piling into Railway Minister Piyush Goyal’s trains all the days he and Amit Shah were helping Bengalis and “outsiders in Bengal and Assam” spread the coronavirus at election rallies in West Bengal, Assam and places elsewhere. He should have known that India’s Covid numbers had been breaking records every single day. If Modi did not know, the PMO needs a shake-up.

Modi should also know that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is under pressure like Arvind Kejriwal and Vijay Rupani and Baghel and Chauhan. Like every other state, Maharashtra was also caught unprepared by the severity of the Covid-19 second wave. There’s a shortage of everything, from oxygen to ventilators to hospital beds to essential drugs like Remdesivir, which the BJP allegedly wants to wholesale and retail in Maharashtra. 

Apparently, ex-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition in the current Maha Assembly, can’t wait to wrest back the Chief Minister’s chair from Uddhav Thackeray, even if it would take a killer-pandemic and tens of thousands of vials of drug Remdesivir to do it. Fadnavis and the state unit of the BJP have allegedly been trying to “buck” the system to run Maharashtra’s healthcare affairs much to the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government’s displeasure.

All this when people have turned lackadaisical to Covid-appropriate behaviour, are shucking facemasks and shortening social distance. The IPL, the election rallies far and near, the Kumbh Mela and the Prime Minister and Home Minister’s election rallies and road shows giving Covid-19 a free run in election-states. The BJP has a sizeable vote-bank and at least 20% of it thinks Modi is God, so says a survey, that everything Modi does is divine!

 Fact of the matter is, it’s not just the Prime Minister who had to be brought to his senses, a lot of what many BJP leaders are saying and doing just doesn’t make any sense. Covid-19 is like rabies to them, some of whom don’t even know that they have gone nuts these days of the coronavirus. For example, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat who compared the Kumbh Mela with the Markaz and said that there’s no need to worry, throw a tantrum, because the Kumbh was spread over 11 ghats while Markaz was just one hall choc-a-bloc! Then, there’s Alok Sharma, ex-mayor of Bhopal, who posed for a picture with half a dozen brand new hearses carrying the Covid-dead in Bhopal – for him it was photo-op!

(IPA Service)

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