Pandemic, opposition and the blame game

By K N Pandita

In a situation of the pandemic, when the entire nation is in the throes of existential threat, it 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 in saving the nation. 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 augment 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 right or wrong reasons, but it will certainly record what contribution the opposition made in saving the nation from the clutches of the dragon.

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 bring onus to the doorsteps of the Central government?

Modi government prioritized vaccinate 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 crore which is equal to whole Europe population. It then planned of vaccinating the general public. But Congress focused on negative aspects and charging its propaganda machine its beneficiaries in the media spread fear by show 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 bringing imported 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 freedom 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 to him and allowed the states to handle the situation as they thought best. But now, we find them imposing lockdown? 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 allowing the States to run the show? Who should be held answerable for the death of thousands of innocent people?

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 Modi has never told. Name a single world leader who likes Modi wore the safety kit, went to the core of the laboratories, interacted with the scientists and monitored the preparation of the vaccine hour by hour that India produced to meet the challenge.

Congress refused to use the vaccine thereby not only creating doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine 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 accusing it was prepared of pig blood. Chattisgarh government refused to vaccinate the state with it. In Maharashtra, 40 lakh vaccines were allowed to expire but the needy were ignored and the affected were allowed to expire. What is the condition of these states today? That is what should be noted. Most of the deaths owing to pandemic happened in these states. While scores of our neighbouring countries approached the government for the supply of Indian vaccine Rahul Gandhi spread the 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 world-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 raising the demand of vaccinating the entire nation of 130 crores knowing full 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 lesser casualties than half of the combined USA – Europe – and UK, all developed nation’s countries. The USA with less than our half people alone lost 5 lakh people. Medical systems of developed countries like the USA and Europe collapsed and they lost twice as many people as India did. Now when Modi is saying 1st May onwards vaccinate all above 18 years of age Congress is 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, blew 800 crores in advertising not setting up approved plants. Chandigarh and UP both did set up the plants in a day. Kejriwal and Congress just made excuses. Maharashtra was busy doing Vasooli opening everything up for extortion. Who is to be blamed for the shortage of oxygen? Why should not people know the facts and raise questions? These non-Congress states clamour for power but look at their performance.

Again, why is Congress making a fuss about the price of the vaccine? It questions Indian vaccine pricing asking why private hospitals are charged Rs 600, but in the same breath, he strongly supports importing Pfizer which costs Rs 1500 or Johnson vaccine costing Rs 1000? Is this lobbying for kickbacks, something very favourite action of the Congress? People don’t know the story of Pfizer. Pfizer refused to do Indian trials. 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 vaccine kills Indians. Congress supports this by doing propaganda on our vaccine which even vaccine expert in White House Paul Offit appreciated can beat the B.1.617 variant of Corona. Congress and Leftists created doubts about our vaccine which was to be implemented last July. They mocked it, calling it Modi drama delaying its release by months. Who should the people hold responsible for the dramatics? Are they worth calling democratic opposition?

We may ask why High Courts are whipping Uddhav and Kejriwal for criminal negligence. Delhi HC accepted PIL against 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 running oxygen trains but not Kejriwal. Should not the people of Delhi raise the issue and fix responsibilities?

Devendra Fadnavis tried to bring Remdesvirs from Daman manufacturers for Maharashtra on priority after taking clearance from the Centre and Maharashtra Aghadi’s FDA minister. But same state government minister Nawab Malik tried to stop it and made police summon the distributors. Priyanka Gandhi accused Fadnavis of hoarding Remdesvir but their own FDA Minister spoke out the truth.

This account of Congress attitude to an issue of extraordinary importance to the survival of the nation makes us depressed. A party of its historicity could play a big and most impressive role by activating the entire nation and leading a fight against the fatal disease. It would have enhanced its prestige and also given it a new lease of life by regaining the great popularity of the days of yore.

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