By Sushil Kutty
Both Delhi and Mumbai are up in arms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have watched his tongue. Covid-19 to the world came out of the blue, but when it struck India, it had already proved its killer-instincts across continents. And then when Modi clamped the first lockdown on the country, with a banging of utensils, there was hardly a couple of hours for India’s millions to prepare for Modi-Trump’s ‘Namaste India’ to the pandemic.
Today, Modi is blaming the MVA government of Maharashtra and the AAP government of Delhi for the mad migrant rush from Mumbai and Delhi, which had led to the Covid spread and the Covid deaths in the thousands. And the day after Modi held forth in the Lok Sabha, Modi is facing flak. Kejriwal cannot believe his ears and the MVA is acutely aware that but for the fact that the Congress is part of the MVA, Modi wouldn’t have taken his ire out on Maharashtra.
Rahul Gandhi’s ringing speech was still ringing in Modi’s head when Modi stood up in the Lok Sabha February 7. The day after, February 8, in the Rajya Sabha, Modi kept up his diatribe against the Congress. For Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no bigger opposition party than the Congress. Someday, when the dust settles down on the BJP-era and the epitaph is written, Modi will admit this.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray did not come out with all-guns blazing against Modi and the Modi government, but his lieutenants weren’t sitting idle. Modi and Uddhav had traded glances the evening before at Lata Mangeshkar’s funeral in Mumbai. Now, #Maharashtradrohi is trending along with #boycottModi and #Kejriwal.
Modi hadn’t thought of the dam of outrage waiting to break. Ironically, by attempting to foist the migrant exodus crisis on Maharashtra, Modi unwittingly opened the sluice gates to a barrage of anti-Modi sentiments which had lain dormant for months. Suddenly, old memories blotted the storyline with old news stories of migrant worker deaths and rivers flowing sluggishly with the bodies afloat on them.
There is this feeling that Modi will live to regret both the migrant exodus and the Covid-19 deaths—the shallow graves Ganga kinare with their saffron markers. For the Opposition parties and the starved media, there couldn’t be more gravy to keep the train moving. The BJP and Narendra Modi would feel the effect post the five state elections, on March 10, when the results are declared.
Perhaps, that is the reason why Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath trained guns on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Modi’s allegations against the Congress is hard to prove, after also having named Kejriwal as the architect of the migrant exodus from Delhi. The Yogi doubled down on Modi’s anti-Kejriwal rant and Twitter rode on them to an almighty crescendo.
Modi now has Kejriwal, Congress, Shiv Sena, NCP, Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Sanjay Raut and god only know who else because to get the names of the millions people in Maharashtra and Delhi, not to speak of those in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, isn’t possible, but these are all people who haven’t taken kindly to Modi’s unproven allegations on the migrant exodus.
Again, Modi could not and did not stop at migrant workers, his hatred for the Congress can only be met by Navjot Singh Sidhu’s love for Imran Khan. Modi in his speech said the Congress was the head of the ‘tukde-tukde gang.’ The Congress now is returning the complement and has the reasons pat: the languages divide, the Hindu-Muslim divide; the north-south divide and what have you?
Modi in his speech said ‘Congress has a game-plan’, clearly trying to reply to Rahul Gandhi’s “China has a plan.” Modi’s obsession with the Congress was complete. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is right when he said that Modi’s entire speech was an attack on the Congress, a “very political speech with a large portion devoted to attacking Congress…”
A number of politicians reacted to Modi’s speech. All of them wondering why Modi brought up the migrant exodus now, at this point in time, what was he expecting to achieve? People had been deserted and left to fend for themselves. The pandemic is chasing them and ahead of them. What did Modi want? What does Modi want? Nobody knows. But Modi did now dwell deep on the migrant exodus in the Rajya Sabha, not when Lok Sabha was still ringing in his ears, hard, loud and clear. (IPA Service)