Nurses checking the reports of COVID-19 patients at Ramakrishna Hospital | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Nurses checking the reports of COVID-19 patients at Ramakrishna Hospital, in Raipur | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces growing criticism across the political spectrum for holding large election rallies as the country’s health system reels from a deadly wave of Covid-19 cases, forcing citizens to beg for oxygen and hospital beds on Twitter.

Modi avoided wearing a mask at a campaign rally on Saturday, saying “I’ve never seen such huge crowds” at an event in West Bengal. That night he said “India had defeated Covid last year and India can do it again” following a virtual meeting with health officials who spoke of critical shortages of drugs, vaccines and other supplies in a nation that has seen a string of new daily records in the past two weeks.

Leaders of key states lashed out at Modi over the weekend, while the opposition Congress party called off campaigning in West Bengal due to the virus surge. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, whose state includes India’s financial center, said on Saturday he tried calling Modi to address shortages of oxygen and the drug Remdesivir — but was told the prime minister was too busy addressing rallies.

Even a former finance minister in Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blasted him. The prime minister’s “delight” at the large crowd on Saturday “could have come only from a person who is completely insensitive,” Yashwant Sinha, now chairman of the newly created United Democratic Alliance party, said on Twitter over the weekend. “I deplore his remarks.”

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment.

India now has the world’s fastest-growing Covid-19 caseload, adding 273,810 new infections and 1,619 deaths on Monday, leaving it behind only the U.S. in terms of total numbers. India’s benchmark stock index slumped the most in Asia on Monday as investors worried the high infection rate would hurt the economy and corporate profits, while the capital was set to go into a weeklong lockdown from Monday night in an attempt to curb the spread.

The growing gap between Modi’s optimism in fighting the virus and the reality on the ground is particularly evident in Delhi, one of the hardest hit places in India. “They killed my son,” one man sobbed outside a crematorium in the capital Saturday.

It’s not yet clear whether the grim scenes will dent Modi’s enduring popularity with voters, who re-elected him in a landslide for a second term in 2019 and have largely stuck with him after he imposed a sudden country-wide lockdown last year that pushed the economy into its first recession in decades. Five states, including West Bengal, will count votes in elections on May 2.

While it’s “too early to say” if Modi will get hit at the polls this time, “certainly many more people are expressing their dissatisfaction than was the case even two months ago,” said Neerja Chowdhury, a New Delhi-based journalist and political commentator who has written about Indian politics for three decades. An India Today survey released in January found Modi retained a 74% approval rating, down from 78% in August 2020.

Either way it amounts to an abrupt change in fortunes for India, which had only last month been hailed for providing vaccines to poorer neighboring countries. Now the world’s biggest manufacturer of vaccines is looking to import shots to mitigate a surge that occurred shortly after Modi’s government allowed large election gatherings and gave the green light to a religious festival that attracted a million devotees.

Also read: New human challenge trial in UK to study immune response that can prevent Covid reinfection

‘Shameless politics’

In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh criticized Modi for sending millions of doses to other nations while India’s own immunization program has administered nearly 123 million jabs — enough so far to give the full two doses to only 1.2% of the country’s 1.4 billion people. Singh also condemned the federal government for failing to approve four oxygen plants in his state since applications were submitted last year.

Modi’s government has also lashed out at state chief ministers from other parties over the pandemic response. Over the weekend, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal blasted Thackeray, the leader of Maharashtra, for “shameless politics” in requesting more oxygen and said state leaders should manage oxygen demand.

“The demand-side management is as important as the supply-side management,” Goyal said. “Controlling Covid is the responsibility of state governments.”

The army has stepped in to help treat sick patients, with the military’s Medical Corps running a 250-bed hospital established in New Delhi. Still, outside hospitals and across social media, the desperate search for life-saving treatment and the wail of ambulance sirens punctuated the quiet of the capital’s weekend lockdown.

‘We are being lied to’

“Urgently need a bed in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 for friend … His oxygen level is coming down alarmingly, need immediate hospitalization. Please help if possible,” Niranjan Sahoo, an analyst at a government-funded research group, tweeted on Saturday.

The calls for help on Twitter, echoed across the country, reflected the pain of well-to-do Indians who have usually been able to bypass the disarray of the public health system and pay for better care. Meanwhile, images and reports from government hospitals showed the fear and distress sweeping through the country’s lower-income families.

Kamal Kumar took his 53-year-old mother to six hospitals across Delhi as her breathing became more and more labored in a frantic bid to find an intensive-care bed with a ventilator. In the end it was too late, he said while standing at the Nigambodh Ghat crematorium on the banks of the Yamuna River. He waited to perform Hindu rites over her body before it was set to burn.

“We are being lied to — there are no hospitals, no beds, no oxygen,” said his uncle Vinay Kumar. “In the emergency room there were three-to-four people lying on a bed. People on the floor. One doctor was desperately running between patients.”

Also read: More 0-19-year-olds hospitalised, higher oxygen demand — how Covid 2nd wave differs from 1st


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  1. PM Modi ji is the best PM of India and in the world. Nothing is going to change that and the more you anti Hindus and anti Indians hate, the more support to PM Modi ji. Get a life, you’re irrelevant jihadis insulted in the world with no brain cells, brainwashed to believe in lies, follow lies and be liars. No shame, you need to focus on your civil war in pakistan due to you terrorists supporting terrorists. What a joke.

  2. Those with brain cells can see the jihadi, liberandus and desh drohis behind the propaganda. They’re so scared of the great PM of India that they find anything to blame him for, they’re wasting their time. Those that have a brain cell can see exactly what is going on and it only strengthens our support for the Hon PM Modi ji and India. No me tion of mamata didiiii ooo didiiiii monster and her rallies, the punjabi jihadi toolkit farmers protests or the jihadi mullahs gathering. The more they bark, the faster India will become a Hindu rashtra again. Those that are crying Hindutva need to take a good hard look at themselves, they’re islamic fascists, liars and hypocrites. They’re a laughing stock with their ridiculous claims, especially when they are the world renowned fascist jihadis. Lastly, we don’t care what islamics cry, let them cry Hindutva! They’re irrelevant and it won’t stop India from being a Hindu rashtra again. Nothing will stop the support for PM Modi ji, Hindutva and India. Those that don’t like it can f off.

  3. all type of politics are bad they just showed up for helping a people but if they really care about people’s live they never held a rallys because most corona spread through it.

  4. Mr Akash: In your comment below, you make an accurate description of the harm that Hindutva has done to India. But the poison that is Hindutva harms India outside the country as well. India has simply squandered its enormous reservoirs of soft power- something the country had assiduously built over the many decades since Independence.

    Soft power, simply put, is the power of attraction, especially attraction to shared values. Unlike hard power which is sometimes called command power, soft power is co-optive power. Stalin mockingly asked:

    “How many divisions does the Pope have”?

    Well, turns out that Stalin is dead and forgotten and the USSR has been broken into smithereens; the Pope meanwhile still goes strong. And no, I am no fan of the Vatican but the point I wish to make is that a country has many sources of power and India has had abundant amounts of soft power. Which is being frittered away by Modi and the ideology of Hindutva.

    Softpower rests on 3 sources:
    – Culture
    – Political values
    – Foreign policy and the moral authority of a country’s foreign policy

    I will posit that India has accumulated soft power in large amounts in all the 3 areas above. When Tibetan fleeing Chinese occupation were given shelter in India, the world took notice; when India stopped the genocidal Pakistani Army in erstwhile East Pakistan in 1971, there was enormous sympathy for what India had done; Indian cuisine, Bollywood, yoga, etc. add to India’s soft power reserves. I live in Europe and even Pakistanis are forced to call their restaurants as Indian restaurants – such has been the power of brand India. Likewise, India’s once robust democratic institutions, free and fair elections, a free press, an independent judiciary etc. win the country plaudits.

    Alas, Hindutva and the Modi regime in particular erode all that. Much of the Western world denied entry to Modi for his role in the pogroms of 2002; the world notices that democracy, freedom of the press and respect for rule of law are almost gone in India; lynchings of Muslims and the rampages of gaurakshaks makes it to the news here too. Worse still is the state indifference at best and support at worst to these atrocities on minorities has tarnished brand India enormously. Today, we have Hindutva and intolerance spilling out in Germany, France, UK and the USA among NRIs. I had earlier mentioned about the Indian Foodfest in Frankfurt in 2019 with clashes between Keralites who ate beef and North Indians who project India as a vegetarian paradise.

    Paradoxically, a survey (ref: in the US showed that whilst Indians espoused, liberal, democratic values whilst in the US, back home, they supported the worst sort of Hindutva and illiberalism.

    As you wisely point out Mr Akash, Hindutva may have been placed on the agenda of Indians by a relatively uneducated Gujarathi pracharak and his slick marketing ploys. But for the project to flourish, one needs accomplices and they are ordinary Hindus. Ordinary Hindus who define their Hinduism in terms of hatred for Muslims, Christians, Dalits etc. And as long as that continues, buttressed by atavistic ideas such as cow science, “sadhus are immune to Covid”, Covid papad, diyas, banging vessels, Baba Ramdev’s gomutra and Coronil, NaMo gravitational waves, Vedic aircraft that can fly and so on, India loses on the global arena as well.

    You write:

    “I may be a lone voice but I advise it is time to rethink not only Modi but Hindutva”

    I do share and endorse your views Mr Akash – so you are not entirely alone. But I must confess that even outside India, Hindutva and the Modi myth have taken deep roots. And the tumour is malignant.

    But then, as the black American civil rights leader Booker T Washington (1856-1915) said:

    “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority”

  5. no mention of Farm protest, election rallies of DMK, Left, Congress, Mamta etc., or people NOT wearing masks. just political propaganda by lutyen, leftist media. many do NOT trust lutyen media for this precise reason. it is not journalism, it is political propaganda machine

    • Well said! Those with brain cells can see the jihadi, liberandus and desh drohis behind the propaganda. They’re so scared of the great PM of India that they find anything to blame him for, they’re wasting their time. Those that have a brain cell can see exactly what is going on and it only strengthens our support for the Hon PM Modi ji and India. The more they bark, the faster India will become a Hindu rashtra again. Those that are crying Hindutva need to take a good hard look at themselves, they’re islamic fascists, liars and hypocrites. They’re a laughing stock with their ridiculous claims, especially when they are the world renowned fascist jihadis. Lastly, we don’t care what islamics cry, let them cry Hindutva! They’re irrelevant and it won’t stop India from being a Hindu rashtra again. Nothing will stop the support for PM Modi ji, Hindutva and India. Those that don’t like it can f off.

  6. There was never a moment uptil now that The Print spared any opportunity to wax eloquence on the Eleventh Messiah. What is the reason now ? Battles and Wars are meant to be fought and won , you Win some you Lose some. Emphasis on sensation is least one can resort to. Nobody lied to anyone , only what is music to the ears of the Warriors is being transmitted. Collective agreement on putting someone on the pedestal of power is what is Democracy. If the Lie is not palatable suggest get up and collect the Multitude to collectively put someone else on the Pedestal. No one is lying to anyone just telling you what you want to hear nothing else.

  7. Till the first week of April everything was turning to Gold by the Midas Touch of the Eleventh Messiah. The Print spared not a word to wax eloquence . If the populace is not in any way cooperating then the Midas Touch on Corona Virus cannot work. Please don’t forget the social responsibility you also have. Aren’t you aware of the protocols for CoVid 19 . First step to be followed then you can go ahead with whatever you want to do. Abide by the rules. Battles and Wars have to be won , so that’s what happening . But the other side is also true that you Win some and Lose some.

    • Nero fiddles while Rome Burns . When will you wake up and see the fire? When you have to set fire to lost loved ones or run pillar tp post looking for oxygen tanks. The P.M is a heartless man.It is a known fact. All he cares about is himself.

      • Lol ‘Beatrice’ too ashaned to use your jihadi name hey. Lol you hate so much, you fear PM Modi ji, BJP lives in you enemies’ heads rent free. As much as you hate it and you’re so jealous, it strengthens our support for PM Modi ji, BJP and India. Keep kidding yourselves wasting time badmouthing the democratically elected PM of India and who is lauded and respected in the world and feared by jihadis. The jihadi hate shows he’s doing everything right. Nobody cares what you jihadis are crying about, you have no relevance and neither does your ranting. Those you hate, we will support even more. Cope.

  8. Stop . Abusing modi is just right of the people and politicians since he is in the power from 2014. He should know what the ground situation of India. He doesn’t know how to weild power for welfare. He knows power to kill people.

  9. It’s sad you refuse to look beyond your blinkers . Wake up .Your job is not to hold the PM or ghr BJP on your head as youe God given responsibility but to excercise your right to criticism when it is needed .

  10. Basic is why govt allowed polls, and bjp canvass, so other parties definetly canvasss, if polls postponed no problem so it is bjp is mistake. Regarding Goyal statement the states duty to manage but most guidelines are issued by central govt but now He blame state govt they always blame opposition can say lot of carelessness by bjp or modi also His popularity not climbing up only climbing down especially in southern and central states as His speeches are full of lies

  11. When you back an uneducated, incompetent whose only achievement is a communal riot, and you worship him, and imagine he is a saviour, this will be the result. I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but what else can one say if you want change ?

    Also, Indians need to realise it is not Modi alone, but Hindutva that has sunk India. There is no money for hospitals, for medicines and vaccines. But 6000 crores can be spent on Patel statue; to make a new Parliament; buy two Boeings so Modi can act like a US President and project India as a superpower.

    And in the Hindutva project, the public is a partner. Including the affluent Indians who could bypass the miseries Modi heaped on the poor and the minorities. Modi could not have done his acts of wickedness without public support. The article says Modi is popular with 78%. If that figure is correct, and we remove the 15% of minorities who know what Modi really is, it means almost all Hindus worship Modi !

    Modi had asked in an election campaign why Hindus were being disadvantaged by minorities and denied crematoria. Well, in his own state, a crematorium overheated and melted. So now he should provide.

    As for the statement that ‘We are being lied to’, Modi has been doing that for years, but still 78% think there is no one else to run India.

    We have the govt. and leaders we want, and we have the result. Bhakts will continue to praise.

    I may be a lone voice but I advise it is time to rethink not only Modi but Hindutva.

    • Err nobody cares about what you jihadis think, you even have to use fake non mus names to try gain some attention otherwise you get ignored straight away, but even with your fake names, your awful dna exposes your lack of iq and brain cells which can only mean you’re that irrelevant garbage. Keep telling yourselves lies, you spend all your sorry little lives ranting on social media and having nightmares about BJP and India. But you don’t get the simple fact, that you’re irrelevant and so is your ranting. PM Modi ji is the best PM and you jihadi and enemies hating only further proves it. Those you hate get even more support. I pity you and your breed.

  12. biased lutyen media. Rallies were held by Rahul, Priyanka, Mamta, Stalin etc. etc. then there is Farm Protest going on for months. Are they are spreading Covid ? Maharashtra government was busy fighting one scam after another – last one being cop vasool scam. indian media is so biased and quality is very low

    • Well said!! Let the luteyns bark, soon it’s the end of anti Indian, anti Hindus whether they’re media or not. Their rants make PM Modi ji and his supporters even stronger. The more they hate, the more power to him, India and Hindutva. They’re burning with jealousy and fear. Using faje non mus names when we all know the gund they are. They abuse out of fear, but their abuses go right back at them, they’re irrelevant and gutter pieces. There’s no stopping the nationalist movement. Jai Hind.

  13. What kind of journalism is this? Only PM Modi’s rallies are a problem? TMC, Congress and left rallies held and being held across 4 states since March are all kosher?!! And, how on earth is Yashwant Sinha, a former cabinet colleague who joined a new party? He is the national Vice President of Mamta Banerjee’s TMC and a bitter Modi Critic since 2014 as he was denied a cabinet berth. Have some semblance of neutrality is coverage. Don’t think that public are gullible fools. This hypocrisy is exactly why BJP and Modi’s graph is rising despite missteps.

    • Grow up and leave your love for modi in the rubbish bin where it belongs. The world knows the depths of modi’s callousness and disdain for the Indian people…. All he wants is power.

    • Sorry brother. The article is dot on point. Modi’s popularity is rising due to religious polarization and take advantage of people’s fears. No positive agenda at all. The BJP is the country’s electoral dinosaur. It is the one that arranged 8-phased poll in Bengal for its own advantage while a big state like TN had a single-day poll. The BJP wants to win, come what may, whether people die or not. PM’s delight at big rallies and adulation is well-known. It is the due of a responsible leader (esp the PM of a country) to show example and exercise caution and restraint in times of emergency. Modi showed childish love for electoral victory during such times.

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