By Sushil Kutty
In China, President Xi Jinping is acting decisively. Authorities there have shut down a city of 13 million because of Covid. People in Xi’an have been ordered to shut themselves indoors. This, after a spike in coronavirus cases. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not want lockdowns to pull down billboards featuring him. His pollster image cannot be allowed to suffer.
Is Modi repeating the April-May 2021 mistake when the second Covid wave took advantage of the rudderless Modi administration and created mayhem? The Delta variant couldn’t have got a more friendly reception than in Modi’s India. And but for Sonu Sood, millions would have courted death. As it is, even otherwise, the actual death numbers from the Delta second wave aren’t known—half the death certificates did not mention Covid-19 as cause of death.
The bodies that took the Ganges route weren’t counted. Not even Barkha Dutt who had stationed herself on the banks of the Ganga in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh did the number crunch. Suffice to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi got away rather inexpensively. True, West Bengal gave him and the BJP a jolt, but that wasn’t “punishment” enough is the considered opinion.
Now, we have the Omicron and Modi is bent on doing a West Bengal in Uttar Pradesh—addressing choc-a-bloc election rallies, mask-less with never a mind to social distancing. Unpardonable! If it wasn’t for the fact that the man’s PM he would have got @#*~^ from the public. The problem is, the public isn’t much different from the leader. The same disregard for the mask and a similar disdain for social distancing—jaisa raja, taisa praja!
And it looks like Narendra Modi will react to Omicron only after actor philanthropist do-gooder Sonu Sood starts getting SOS left right and centre from all over India, Kashmir to Kerala. Come 2024, we should elect Sonu our Prime Minister! At least he delivered us oxygen. The current incumbent specializes in carbon-die-oxide.
Also, they say the Delta variant hasn’t gone, that it’s hiding in the lows and could gang up with Omicron. In the United States and United Kingdom, Omicron has become the dominant variant. The first deaths from Omicron have been reported in both countries and Biden and Boris are hollering “Booster-Booster.” In India, the “one and only Modi” seems to be immune to any such urgency.
December 22, the “second most important man in India”, a megaphone if any, blasted BJP spokesman Sambit Patra, a surgeon who gave up the scalpel. Patra was asked point-blank, “Where’s the booster? India needs its boosters.” Patra replied, “I am a surgeon, I am not a scientist, the scientists are looking at data.” The second most important man wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, he went on a harangue—turns out he was Covid-hit by Delta and is scared stiff of Omicron.
As would be a billion others if they weren’t kept busy with round-the-year elections and Hindu-Muslim-Hindu-Muslim electioneering. The problem with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is he actually, really, believes, is convinced that he is “Vishwa Guru”—the last word on everything concerning mankind. Modi thinks he is in his chair glued for keeps, Prime Minister for another half a century at least.
Okay, let him be happy hallucinating, “but is he also the last word on the coronavirus?” Modi, it appears, cannot read the signs, like a good Apache Indian, but “we the people” can and what we read is that Modi is repeating the exact same mistakes he committed in West Bengal—electioneering like, if he did not, there could be another holocaust, refusing to answer the all important question, “Where is the booster?”
Modi will get his booster. The other netas will also get theirs. But what about the hoi polloi, the vulnerable public? Last heard, India’s vaccination status was “40 percent got two doses” and “60 percent got a single dose.” So, forget the booster? The deadline for “100% two doses” was December 31! Now what, prepare for holocaust? The Ganga ghats will rise in rebellion. Most likely, we will get to know of the boosters when Modi will picture himself in the media getting the booster with another incongruous spectacle.
The question that should trouble all of us is, “Do we have the resources to finish the vaccination drive with 100 percent jabs?” Talk that is doing the rounds says that the Modi Government has cut the health budget, and public health is the last thing on Modi’s mind. These “rumours” are floating because this Prime Minister is a master of the incommunicado. Is there anybody powerful enough to hold him down and press him to a ‘Meet the Press’ event? He should be given a dose or two of unpalatable questions. (IPA Service)