he reaction of the Delhi Police, which is under the direct control and supervision of the Union government, to a dozen or so young men sticking posters on some walls in the national capital can only be termed as hilariously idiotic. The posters being stuck on some walls questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among other things, as to why he sent vaccines abroad that the children of this nation could have had now.
Undoubtedly, this is a sensitive issue for which Modi has no answers. It also demonstrated the depth to which people’s emotions have been disturbed by recent happenings. News and photographs of cremation grounds piled up with bodies aflame, hundreds queuing up in front of hospitals for beds and oxygen have become daily fare. So have desperate calls for help from large number of people on social media for oxygen and medicines. The biggest shocker has come with the discovery of thousands of unidentified, unclaimed dead bodies. First, hundreds of bodies were noticed floating ashore in different parts of Bihar and later thousands of bodies were spotted buried in shallow sands on the banks of the river Ganga, which were exposed after rains in Uttar Pradesh. These extremely disturbing and shocking images have shaken the faith of people not only on Modi but also the government of India. What is astonishing is the underplaying or complete blackout of such news by most national media as also TV channels and newspapers of Orissa.
Calculating everything politically may eventually harm greater national interest. While friendly media is trying to cover up these gory events, the government’s reprisals in the form of arrests by the police make the events widely noticeable. Take for instance the poster boys. They might have put up some posters at a few places and gone home. Delhi being an RSS stronghold, some Hindootva supporters could have easily removed the posters and ended the story. Also noticeable is the arrests of very many people appealing for medical help on social media. Using government machinery as an instrument of political oppression indicates a government which is willing to go to any lengths to silence people from pointing out its weaknesses. It can also signify an unwillingness of party workers to expose themselves to public wrath. Therefore, the dependence on the police and other government agencies.
The anger of the people emanates from unavailability of medicines, oxygen and vaccines to name a few. The Prime Minister is putting up a desperate effort at diverting the issue by asking for an audit of oxygen availability in different states. This attitude might prove even more damaging for Modi. It is not as if hospitals had access to oxygen but connived to deprive and kill patients. The natural poser to Modi could be whether he wants to show the audit report to the dead or to their kin. This is not the appropriate time to keep people busy carrying out oxygen audits in all states, so also this is a wrong time to be arresting poster boys for petty political gains. In other words, with the Prime Minister himself getting defocused, the Union government has lost track and seems to have abdicated its responsibilities. A leadership is recognized for its worth during times of crisis. Instead of blaming all else for the present plight of citizens, the Centre should have been more proactive and focused on national health and crisis management. Unfortunately, it has failed to do so. By trying to divert attention of people by using the police and other wings of the government, Modi has damaged himself more than any opposition forces could have achieved.