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In a situation of the pandemic, the nation expects a true and disinterested democratic opposition to sweep aside political and other differences for the time being, and offer full support to the government in meeting the deadly challenge. Criticising the government for where or how it has faltered is all right, but more than criticism, the situation demands honest and pragmatic suggestions and practical involvement for the common weal. Instead of censuring the government for one or the other fault, the opposition parties should have come out with what monetary and material help they are in a position to collectively offer to assist the government’s efforts of controlling the pandemic. Not any particular political party, but the Indian nation as such has fallen on bad days. History will not record whether the opposition censured the government for the right or wrong reasons, but it will certainly record what contribution the opposition made in saving the nation from the pandemic.
As early as January and February, PM Modi cautioned the states that the second wave of the pandemic was about to come and that it was much more dangerous. His warning came regularly till March. But the States took no heed. They allowed relaxation in lockdown, lifted the ban on malls, cinemas, bars and wound up set-up COVID centres by half. Can they shift the blame to the doorsteps of the Central government?
The Modi government prioritized vaccination of frontline workers first, doctors, nurses, paramedical forces, police force and then senior citizens, infected patients etc. till the number of vaccinated people touched 15 crores. It then planned to vaccinate the general public. But Congress focused on negative aspects and charged its propaganda machine. Its beneficiaries in the media spread fear by showing burning dead bodies. The Chinese satellite had taken the pictures and disseminated them to the surrogate media. No nation shows graveyards or cremation centres. The Washington Post never shows American Graveyards but does show Hindu crematories. Congress uses these pictures to push for importing foreign vaccines.
When the Modi government took stringent measures to enforce preventive and precautionary measures during the first wave, the Congress and AAP led opposition said it was arbitrary and invoked the autonomy of the States in handling the scourge. Not only that, Rahul Gandhi even questioned the need for imposing a lockdown, indirectly meaning to convey that Modi was functioning in an autocratic manner. Modi responded and allowed the states to handle the situation as they thought best. But now, we find them imposing lockdowns. This is a dichotomy not politics in the interests of the nation. The question is who should be held responsible for the mess that has ensued after the States were left to run the show? Who should be held answerable for the death of thousands of citizens?
From day one, PM Modi laid full stress on the preparation of the indigenous vaccine. What financial investment, what logistical support and what motivation and persuasion were harnessed to produce the effective vaccine is a story that the Prime Minister has not told so far. Name a single world leader who, like Modi, wore the safety kit, went to the laboratories, interacted with the scientists and monitored the preparation of the vaccine hour by hour.
Congress leaders refused to use the vaccine, thereby not only creating doubts about its efficacy but also casting aspersions on India’s proud top team of scientists. They lambasted it and shockingly called it “BJP Vaccine and Modi’s Vaccine”. Akhilesh Yadav refused to use it, claiming it was prepared with pig blood. The Chhattisgarh government refused to vaccinate its denizens with it. In Maharashtra, 40 lakh doses were allowed to expire while the needy were ignored/ What is the condition of these states today? That is what should be noted. Most of the deaths owing to the pandemic happened in some of these states. While scores of our neighbouring countries approached the government for the supply of the Indian vaccines, Rahul Gandhi spread propaganda to bring imported expensive untested vaccines instead.
The nation was surprised that the Congress claiming to be a patriotic party of long-standing should spurn and disrespect our renowned scientists. But when nations like Spain, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal etc praised the Indian vaccine (“Modi vaccine”) the Congress is asking why it was sent abroad. The Congress that disparaged the indigenous vaccine is now demanding the vaccination of the entire nation of 130 crores knowing fully well that such a herculean task cannot be accomplished overnight. But it is a good pretext to instigate the people. Is this the positive contribution of the opposition in times of great peril? It reminds us of the story of the wolf and the lamb.
India with 130 crore people had less casualties by half than the combined USA – Europe – and UK, all developed nations. The USA with a quarter of our population lost 5 lakh people. The medical systems of several wealthy almost collapsed When the government started from 1st May onwards to vaccinate all above 18 years of age Congress again started creating hurdles.
Congress leadership did not contribute to PM Care’s fund. In Dec-Feb money was given to the states from the same PM Cares fund to set up oxygen plants. Delhi got money to set up 8 plants. Maharashtra got money for 10 plants. Both Maharashtra and Delhi set up just one each. Kejriwal, instead, spent 800 crores in advertising his alleged achievements. Chandigarh and UP both did set up the plants in a day. Kejriwal and Congress just made excuses. Maharashtra was busy doing Vasooli. Who is to be blamed for the shortage of oxygen? Why should not people know the facts and raise questions? These Congress states clamour for power but look at their performance.
Again, why is Congress making a fuss about the price of the vaccine? Rahul Gandhi questions Indian vaccine pricing asking why private hospitals are charged Rs 600, but in the same breath, he strongly supports importing the Pfizer one which costs Rs 1500 or the Johnson vaccine costing Rs 1000? People don’t know the story of the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer refused to do trials in India. Their vaccine is untested in the Indian climate. The cost of storing it in minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit across India is huge. They seek legal immunity and state guarantees even if their RNA messenger (‘immune system-hacking’) experimental vaccine kills people. Instead the Indian made Covaxin, which even vaccine expert in White House Paul Offit said can beat the B.1.617 variant of Corona, was decried by Congress and Leftists. They mocked it, calling it a Modi drama. Are they performing democratic opposition?
We may ask why High Courts are whipping Uddhav and Kejriwal for criminal negligence. Delhi HC accepted the PIL against Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal for criminal negligence. Maharashtra is now reducing tests instead of increasing them to keep numbers down. Whose fault is it? All states arranged tankers to carry oxygen from Indian railways oxygen trains but not Kejriwal. Should not the people of Delhi raise the issue and assign responsibilities?
This account of Congress’ attitude to an issue of extraordinary importance. A party with such a commanding historical legacy could play an impressive role by mobilizing the nation and leading a fight against the disease. It would have enhanced its prestige and might also have given it a new lease of life.