Post-election results, the ‘wise men’ in the Opposition, especially those belonging to the parties which lost their credibility in the elections, are vocal in criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his handling of the second wave of COVID-19. Every reason, which these leaders feel responsible for the surge, is attributed to the union government forgetting their role in the spread of the current pandemic situation. The leaders are so confident of the short memory of people will give them a chance to get away with their track record of both words and deeds. At every stage of the fight against COVID-19, the Opposition ran a counter verbal campaign to run down the Government's efforts with a political motive resulting in heavy loss of life. For the Opposition, it seems the political gains are paramount rather than the health of the common Indian for whose safety and welfare the Modi government was working tirelessly. The opposition, unfortunately, chose to indulge in rumour-mongering on both the vaccine production and vaccination process. At no stage did the Opposition thought this pandemic was a national calamity requiring a united fight. Their sole motto was to run down Narendra Modi, by spreading false stories, as they couldn’t fight him politically. Starting from the vaccine preparation stage to the election campaign as the cause for the surge of COVID the Opposition has exhibited a negative mentality.
The Opposition led by the Congress is now demanding vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, for all age groups immediately. The Congress-ruled Punjab, Rajasthan, and CPI(M)-led Kerala are all demanding the rushing of those vaccines, on which they had not much confidence earlier and the same vaccines whose preparation they doubted initially. One can understand the concern of those Chief Ministers for the safety of the people who elected them but it is not easy to condone their role in running a false campaign against the vaccines. The entire Opposition is certainly guilty of being partners in the conspiracy hatched by their respective party high commands to spread the rumours in derailing the vaccination initiative.
It was in January this year the Modi put in all his efforts on the indigenous production of a vaccine for COVID. He encouraged our scientists and innovators to find out a cure for the epidemic. The regulatory authorities have given clearance to the Oxford Astra Zeneca Covishield vaccine as well as conditional approval to Covaxin by Bharat Biotech. By March first week the covid vaccine is rolled out and this was done under the combined initiative of ‘Make in India’ and ÁtmaNirbhar Bharat’. The whole world recognized what India has done in the production of vaccines except Indian opposition parties and the leaders heading those parties. Instead of appreciating that effort and cooperating with the government in vaccination drive the opposition which was never proud of anything Indian exhibited their cynical attitude by pouncing on Prime Minister Modi with anger, ridicule, and disdain thus spreading panic in public. Their collective indulgence is the worst kind of rumour-mongering ever known in this country.
At no stage did the Opposition thought this pandemic was a national calamity requiring a united fight. Their sole motto was to run down Narendra Modi, by spreading false stories, as they couldn’t fight him politically
Taking a cue from the high command and Rahul Gandhi its leaders started spreading fear on vaccines. The Congress spokesperson Salman Niazi called “vaccine a fraud”. Another leader Rashid Alvi put forward the ridiculous argument by saying “the way BJP and PM have used central agencies against the opposition there is nothing wrong in assuming vaccine misuse is justified”. The leader of SP Ashutosh Sinha spread the fear of “impotency post-vaccination”. His party chief Akhilesh Yadav went to an extent of calling vaccines ‘BJP vaccine’ and urged his party cadre not to have these vaccines. He further promised to make ‘SP vaccine’after coming to power in 2022”. This leader wanted the people of UP where his party is based. All these false things are aimed at Muslims, to cash their innocence and turn them into a firm vote bank.
The skeptic trio of Jairam Ramesh, Sashi Tharoor of Congress, and SitaramYechry of CPM attributed “short-circuiting the regulatory process for political gains”. All of them are politically motivated statements aimed at political gains and are certainly not based on facts. The leaders were at one time criticizing the P.M. for exporting the vaccinations to other countries though it was made as for international protocol and as an obligation for receiving the raw material from abroad. PM Modi was accused of aiming at Nobel Prize and exporting the vaccination, which is farfetched. The same leaders are now at the forefront in demanding indigenous vaccines for all irrespective of age. The leaders forget the size of the population and population density in India and criticize the Modi Government for not achieving what some advanced countries have achieved. Even the USA is aimed at vaccinating 70 per cent of its population by July 4th the American Independence Day. Whereas India with a 130 crore population has already vaccinated around 30 crores of its population. Not a single word of appreciation for the success Modi has achieved from the opposition.
The opposition unfounded apprehensions on corona vaccines and rumours spread on the efficacy of indigenous vaccines were the root cause of the initial reluctance of the general public for vaccination. The party workers were found preventing, in some areas of the country, preventing the public to reach the vaccination centers resulting in the wastage of vaccine vials. The underutilisation of vaccines and reduced pace of vaccination squarely rests with the unethical tactics of the Opposition.
The attack on Modi for going ahead with state elections which is now shown as a cause for the surge by the Left-oriented media people is a clever move to avoid questions on the washout of Left parties in Bengal. Every party was aware that elections to 4 state assemblies are due in April and they also know the covid situation in the country. But no party has come out with a proposal to postpone the elections. They all know the electioneering involves rallies, huge gatherings, and a lot of mobility across the country which are sure causes for the spread of the virus. But Congress, TMC, DMK, Left were all for elections.
Had Modi took the initiative to postpone the elections by imposing the Presidential rule after the completion of the Assembly term no opposition would have not only welcomed such an imaginative idea to contain the covid spread. The judiciary which are using such harsh terms for castigating the Election Commission would have pronounced that as suppression of democratic right. The opposition parties would have used choicest terms of “murder of democracy”, “misuse of power”, “manipulation to win the election through the official machinery”, “backdoor entry way to enter the opposition ruled states”, “ducking the elections with the fear of defeat”. Shri Narendra Modi knowing fully the negative mentality of the opposition went ahead with the elections as mandated by the constitution. In a way electioneering was the collective responsibility of all the parties. No political party made a conscious decision not to have gatherings. The TMC challenged the hugeness of its gatherings compared to BJP meets. CPM in Kerala, DMK in Tamil Nadu has organized much bigger gatherings. They are guilty of spreading the corona and unfortunately instead of accepting their role in the surge the opposition is trying to throw the blame on the center. People should see through the game of the opposition and stand by the government of Shri Narendra Modi in all its effort to roll out the vaccine across the country.
(The writer is a retired Professor and political columnist based in Vijayawada)