GTA5

Adityanath government’s handling of Covid crisis faces rising criticism from within BJP

Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh’s candid admission that his party didn’t foresee Covid spreading to villages comes amid the state’s rural areas reporting 65% of fresh infections. And this may be a significant undercount: India’s most populous state has a vast rural hinterland with poor healthcare facilities. States with far smaller populations are reporting more daily cases, which also raises the possibility that UP just isn’t testing enough. Meanwhile, other manifestations of vast distress have surfaced.

Teachers’ unions have furnished details of their peers who may have died of Covid after polling duty in the four-phase panchayat elections. BJP MPs and MLAs starting from Union minister Santosh Gangwar have complained of overwhelmed hospitals to CM Adityanath, some of them from bitter personal experience too. Dumping of dead bodies in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers is of course the most grim sign that people are in crying need of help. No civilised society should remain unmended after such a denouement for its dead.

A government lacking capacity to tackle a calamity must, alternatively, allow people to fearlessly seek non-governmental help. Unfortunately, UP set a bad precedent several weeks ago warning of coercive action against “rumours” of oxygen shortage. A prompt SC reprimand appears to have prompted rethink. Allahabad HC has attempted to remedy the governance deficit through a series of orders to ease oxygen supply, availability of essential medicines, and grievance redressal at the district level. For the dead teachers, it overruled UP government’s offer of Rs 30 lakh compensation, noting at least Rs 1 crore was deserved after their being compelled into polling duties without basic protections like RT-PCR screening.

The pandemic has turned past failings into deep wounds. UP has one doctor per 3,767 people (Tamil Nadu’s ratio is 1:253) and even this could be greatly skewed towards cities. Its density of active nurse workforce is among the lowest. Given the overall reluctance to accept accountability, Singh’s confession stands out even if it is of little comfort to those afflicted by Covid. The Adityanath government must heed its legislators and function with greater responsiveness, compassion and science. It will need aid and resources. But these can only flow in required quantities if the data is good. For example if testing is suboptimal, and fewer cases are revealed, oxygen allocation will be lower. Remedying the crisis begins with measuring it right.



Linkedin


This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.



END OF ARTICLE



Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close
Close