Brand Modi National

COVID-19 crisis: BJP leaders worry over party image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a recent election rally. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The second wave of the pandemic has left even the well connected high and dry when it comes to accessing health care resources, a fact that has been illuminated by the death of four BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh alone, a letter from Union Minister Santosh Gangwar to U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about the lack of resources in his constituency of Bareilly and the helplessness being expressed even within BJP circles in terms of dealing public distress.

The effect of all this not just in terms of what it means for the progress of the pandemic through the country but also for the reputation of Brand Modi is very much on the minds of BJP leaders.

On Tuesday, party president JP Nadda wrote a four-page rebuttal to Congress working president Sonia Gandhi’s speech at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet held the previous day. In this, he accused her and her party of being “duplicitous and petty” and “creating a false panic in the fight against COVID-19”.

The tone of the letter was to emphasise that the Opposition and the Chief Ministers of the Opposition-ruled States have steadily opposed prescriptions to control the pandemic and blamed Mr. Modi as it went out of hand. BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya bemoaned the fact that while fatalities were being talked about, recovery rates were not being highlighted in quite the same way.

The RSS, the ideological mothership of the BJP, also announced, via its COVID Response Team (CRT) the launch of a campaign entitled “Hum Jeetenge” (we will win) also called “Positivity Unlimited” to counter ‘negativity’ around the fight against COVID-19.

The campaign will include an address by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat likely in the second week of May and daily lectures (online) by eminent achievers from across the country. A promotional title/poster from the event showcased Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Jaggi Vasudev, Azim Premji of Wipro and danseuse and MP Sonal Mansingh.

Senior party leaders who spoke to The Hindu, however, admitted that while oppositional politics was a factor for them, the lack of anticipation of the second wave has made much of the defence pretty hard going. “The winding up of additional capacity in Delhi in February, as cases were rising in Maharashtra and Kerala, demonstrated a lack of anticipation,” said a senior BJP leader.

A Central Minister admitted that the middle class had been badly hit this time, with “no one’s contacts or influence” was enough to get medical help. Delhi RSS’ Rajiv Tuli’s plaintive tweet stating that the Delhi BJP was absent from the scene was indicative of the fact.

“Health is a State subject but the Central government should have been more alert to the second wave,” said the central minister quoted above. The acceptance of foreign aid has hit the ‘aatmanirbhar’ plank of Prime Minister Modi badly too. With experts warning of a third wave as well, the lessons of the second wave, BJP leaders say, will be more lasting than that of the first.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 12:26:10 PM |

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