By Sushil Kutty
Doubt if ex-health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has many fans. Maybe close kin, and a few good friends. But, is he the incompetent he’s made out to be because he was shown the door by Prime Minister Narendra Modi? The question includes almost all of the dozen ministers booted out of the Council of Ministers in the cabinet reshuffle done by PM on Wednesday evening.
Let’s, however, turn the question on its head: What if the Council of Ministers were to rate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance on any number of things that affected India’s crores over the last two-and-a-half years, and to take a decision?
Then, Narendra Modi would have been out on a limb, and made to walk the plank, because Modi’s record, especially that during his second term so far, would be up for scrutiny and found wanting. More so because Narendra Modi is control-freak and puppeteer, both. And every Tom, Dick, and Ranchodmal of Vadnagar, Gujarat, knows who holds the controls of the reins of the Union cabinet in his once chai-pati stained hands.
If Dr. Harsh Vardhan couldn’t and didn’t take robust decisions to tame the 2nd Covid wave, it was because his mind was blank, perhaps because of the absence of clear-cut directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was happily wooing voters in West Bengal at the time by disregarding and giving Covid-appropriate behaviour the thumb.
It’s one of those travesties of life, and justice, that super-bosses refuse to take responsibility for their acts of commission and omission. Shame, actually. The buck stopped at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s table, but the axe fell on Dr. Harsh Vardhan. Now, if that isn’t injustice, what is?
M/s Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar were also sacked, but they were at the Rashtrapati Bhavan bash, whereas Dr. Harsh Vardhan wasn’t to be seen, he must have been genuinely miffed that the Prime Minister was holding him responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of coronavirus positive Indians.
It would be illuminating to know exactly for what reason(s) Dr. Harsh Vardhan was sacked. TV news channels say he “mishandled” the Covid pandemic, and therefore India was caught on the back foot when the coronavirus turned vilely ugly and dangerous.
It is also being alleged that Dr. Harsh Vardhan failed to see the deadlier 2nd Covid wave coming, and didn’t take corrective measures. But, then, if the health minister couldn’t see it coming, what about the ‘n’ number of experts the Prime Minister surrounds himself with, why didn’t they have an inkling?
True, ministers are there to advise the Prime Minister and keep him up to speed on the various issues affecting the country. But even ministers are not specialists in everything they survey. They, too, are given counsel, and have to answer to a higher authority.
Besides, to reiterate for the umpteenth time, the buck stops at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s table, and he’s notoriously famous for holding all powers solely in his stubborn control.
Even if he was on an election-winning binge, the Prime Minister should have kept abreast of Covid-19. For God’s sake, there was a once in a century pandemic rampaging about, not just common cold and sore throat! And what was the Prime Minister’s Office doing? It is common knowledge that ever since Modi became Prime Minister, the PMO is like the Zedi; it can get a lead on everything that happens in India.
Shouldn’t the PMO have known of the impending 2nd Covid wave? Also there was massive failure to anticipate oxygen shortages and the requirements of essential drugs to treat Covid-19, the black and other colourful funguses. But, then, it’s only now that Modi has discovered the “synergy” between health and chemicals & fertilizers.
It’s also being alleged that only after “Dr Harsh Vardhan mishandled” did Prime Minister Narendra Modi take charge of tackling the pandemic, and only then could a turnaround be forced. Okay, but that’s proof that ministers in Modi’s council of ministers prefer not to take independent decisions because of the overpowering aura of Modi.
While on the health ministry and Narendra Modi, who cannot forget Baba Ramdev. The yoga guru had a massive butt-in with allopathic doctors at the height of the 2nd Covid wave, and Dr. Harsh Vardhan had to butt in and ask Baba Ramdev to “apologise” to the allopathic doctors. The question is does Baba Ramdev have anything to do with Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s departure?
Finally, the mega-reshuffle was an event managed in true Modi-style. It was evident that Modi was ‘boss’ of all that he surveyed, the single-most powerful individual in India, the man who holds all the strings, responsible for everything that moves in India. If so, why was Dr Harsh Vardhan’s head on the block? (IPA Service)