Indian Express is after UP on Covid-19: When the State is nowhere among the worst 12 States

8th May 2021

8th May 2021

Indian Express is running a series on Covid-19 situation in Uttar Pradesh. Naturally, the newspaper feels there are a lot of bones to pick against the Yogi Adityanath government. 

Interestingly, the newspaper’s second lead is an overview of the pandemic situation in India. It quotes health ministry that five states—Goa, Haryana, Puducherry, West Bengal, Karnataka, Delhi and Rajasthan—are showing grim positivity rate of 30 percent or more. 

Further, it quotes official sources that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and 12 other states—-Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Haryana, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Assam and Himachal Pradesh—are scaling new peaks daily.

Now this is worth your attention: Among the 30 districts showing a “steep upward trend week-on-week”  as many as 10 are in Kerala. Guess what, there is none from Uttar Pradesh!

Now that Kerala, “week-on-week” and not “day-to-day” is showing “steep” hike, it’s no brainer that series if any ought to be run on Kerala than on Uttar Pradesh. 

You can’t ask Indian Express: Why? You also can’t bristle with anger that Uttar Pradesh with 23 crores, in terms of population, would be world’s fifth most populous nation behind China (1.40 billion), India (1.38 billion), United States (33 crores) and Indonesia (27 crores). Kerala? A mere 3 crores. 

Who do you think should be a cause for concern for a newspaper? More so when the rate of positivity of UP (480 per lakh) is eight times lower than Delhi, seven times lower than Maharashtra, five times lower than a tiny Chhattisgarh. 

Let’s cast a glance at death per lakh of population. UP has 6 per lakh; Delhi has times more, so is Maharashtra and even Chhattisgarh is five times more. Who you think is the State whose population needs greater focus of media for its reeling population? 

Indeed, you look at front pages of Lutyens Media. The headlines tell us that Matrix Cellular was involved in hoarding and black-marketing racket. Navneet Kalra is buried somewhere in the copy when it’s now in public domain that he was black-marketing oxygen concentrators. Why is Kalra kept away from the spotlight? Is it because he was hailed by Arvind Kejriwal as one of the “Makers of Delhi”? And that he flaunts the visit of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in his Townhall eatery. 

Why is Lutyens Media going to this length that Kalra remains under the radar. Shouldn’t it tickle its news sense that a man close to powers in Delhi, and involved in black-marketing, could unravel why millions of Delhites are suffering in this pandemic? Why they are short on everything? That the Centre, after all, could be right that an audit of Oxygen is necessary. Shouldn’t it ask the Kejriwal government why is it resisting the audit of oxygen?

You won’t have read a piece against Kejriwal or Uddhav Thackeray on their Covid-19 management in Lutyens Media. Instead, you would find every second headline is an attack on Narendra Modi (ok, call it Centre). India's vaccination policy is trolled when at 16 crores, it has vaccinated as many as US has done (50% of 33 crore population) with its limited resourses.

Why is it that everything, from hospital beds to oxygen to water is the responsibility of Centre? Is Kejriwal,Thackeray etc not answerable on any count? Why no question is being laid at their door?

The simple truth is, Lutyens Media sense a moment to seize against the BJP in this crisis. This is the moment: Modi and Yogi, the two who could hold India’s reign for next decade, are pinned to the wall. Millions of Indians are distressed and looking to find one villain. Give wind to this anger and it would engulf Modi and Yogi. Meanwhile, the innocent profiles of a few other chief ministers, hands folded, face a picture of piety, would be splashed in front of your eyes. No questions asked, no prisoner taken. 

Before I forget, Delhi High Court is stern on Centre. It wants 700MT delivered everyday to Delhi but is not pressing the Kejri government for audit on oxygen. It’s not paying heed to Centre that it’s far more than others are getting. It’s not lending an ear that it could lead to shortfall in other states. Are lives in Delhi more important than ones in Jaipur or Jamnagar? High Courts from around the country are circling Centre. Why?

If States have no liability why have assembly elections at all. If regional powers are so inept, what’s the use of this federalism? If Centre is answerable to all your problems, and States can’t do anything, why not run the entire country from one central command?

The truth is the Opposition, the Media, the echo-system sense a 2004 moment in the present crisis. Atal Behari Vajpayee was booted out of power despite “India Shining”. Vajpayee never stepped out of his home thereafter. He was active till 2010 but nobody heard him say anything. He just withdrew from it all. The tirade against him worked. The echo-system is hoping the same for Narendra Modi. The only hope is, if the voters could spot the machinations of the eco-system. It has nothing to do with the welfare of India, but everything to do with their own. 

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