Interview | National

Coronavirus | Yogi Adityanath government misleading people on COVID-19 numbers, says U.P. Congress chief

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu. File

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

It has not set any parameter or made facilities for screening. Nor has it arranged for random testing, says Ajay Kumar Lallu

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu, an MLA from Tamkuhi Raj in Kushinagar, Purvanchal, accuses the BJP government of hiding the real figures of COVID-19. The Yogi Adityanath government is misleading people through illusion of numbers, he says.

You have criticised the Agra model of containment, which is being much publicised by the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. What is lacking in the Agra model, according to you?

The model they have unceasingly presented before the country, its reality has been exposed. So far, 401 COVID-19 infected patients (till Tuesday evening) have been found in Agra. And the way in which the people have been kept in quarantine centres — the video of one such incident was viral — has shamed humanity and whole of U.P. Other than Agra, we find a large number of positive cases in Firozabad and Kanpur as well. There seems to be a big lack in the way treatment is being provided. Testing is not being done at a large scale. The result is that today U.P. is fully engulfed by the infection. The Chief Minister is only misleading the people and not working in the manner he should.

The U.P. government has decided to bring back its migrants stranded in the other States. They have already brought back people from Haryana. Do you feel this could have been done earlier or is the timing apt?

The workers the government has decided to bring back are only those who were kept in the quarantine centres. I have received a large number of calls from our working-class brothers from Telangana and Himachal Pradesh, who are from my constituency. Twentyeight days have passed but till date the government has not made any preparation to being them back. Apart from those already in quarantine, workers in large numbers are stranded in Gujarat, Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The government should come up with a policy for them. The workers are desperate and weeping, their videos are going viral, their families are low on morale and are daily pleading to the CM. We have written many letters, even Priyanka Gandhiji has written many letters but the government is still not giving us a clear answer on bringing such workers back.

But is U.P. prepared to handle a large number of migrants? Does it have the facilities and enough quarantine centres?

The workers stranded in other States obviously must be staying inside their homes as part of the lockdown. While planning how to bring them back, then of course they should be properly examined and you can come up with temporary quarantine centres at various places, on the sides of highways or use schools, colleges and other institutions. Since this is not the winter season, they can also come up with tents at various places to arrange for their stay. And those who are found positive should be treated while others should be dropped home.

The U.P. government has been declaring some districts as “corona free”, that they don’t have any remaining active cases, but then a few days later, fresh positive cases were reported in these districts like Prayagraj, Bareilly, Pratapgarh and Pilibhit.

The Centre has issued some figures about U.P. Of the 75 districts, 53 have less than 100 isolation beds. Thirtyone such districts have positive cases and 34 districts don’t have ICU facility. Nineteen of 34 districts have positive cases. The State government had declared 11 districts as “corona mukt” including Prayagraj, Bareilly, Pilibhit and Pratapgarh. All four have now reported fresh cases. What was the preparation? What was the parameter? It has not set any parameter or made facilities for screening. Not arranged for random testing.

Also read: Data | 96% migrant workers did not get rations from the government, 90% did not receive wages during lockdown: survey

 

 I feel this BJP government is continuously misleading the people. On average only 400-450 tests are being done daily. They are claiming it is 3,000 but not more than 450 tests are being done. And if you look closely, only those in quarantine centres and some special types of people in the hospots are being tested. They can express a strong desire to combat this disease if they conduct screenings and random testing at a large scale.

You are saying that the government is hiding the real figures?

Of course. This is the illusion of numbers. They are trying to entangle people of U.P. in numbers.

The actual number of people infected could be much higher, as per you?

Yes, of course. I cannot indicate any figure without the full examination. But still somewhere, this illness has spread in a big way. If we test people, the reality will come before us. I feel many districts, which the government claims has no cases at all, if there is random testing conducted, cases will come up in large numbers. The speed of testing is slow and is only at some marked places.

Many migrants who arrived in U.P. from other States have been escaping from quarantine centres. FIRs have also been lodged against them. Is this due to some miscommunication, lack of awareness or are they not being provided basic facilities or assurances?

Quarantine centres are in a bad shape. If NGOs and locals don’t chip in… the government had claimed it would allot funds for such centres in all tehsils and districts. And I can say with full confidence that it is the various NGOs and local leaders who are providing food to people in quarantine centres. In Fatehpur, Congress people are supplying food. The government is not working the way it should. This is the apathy of the government. Even if those under quarantine want to stay, they can’t. There are no facilities, no power or fan or arrangement to stay. I watched a video from Bhadohi where a dog was seen loitering around the place where food was being prepared for such people. The food was unhygienic. People are being compelled to leave the quarantine centres.

The lockdown will go on till May 3. This has caused a lot of economic hardship and strained the rural economy in a State like UP. Do you feel the lockdown should be extended beyond this?

As of now, the government has no arrangement. The government has fully failed in terms of preparation. Apart form lockdown, increased testing and treatment of those infected, there is no other solution to this illness. The way rural economy has been shattered...small industries, small traders, street hawkers, vendors and such people are badly affected. The shopkeepers have not received any rebate in three months. They announced they would provide labourers with three months of ration. But they only gave rice free. Only those under Antyodaya got them free of cost. The rest had to pay ₹3 per kg for rice and ₹2 per kg for wheat. The government has only made a large number of announcements but not done anything to implement it on the ground.

If the lockdown is further extended, how should we look at it? A step needed to control COVID-19 or a further setback to the economy?

It doesn’t appear from the intentions and policies of this government that the economy will improve. Apart from the lockdown they don’t have any alternative. I feel that till they don’t test on a large scale, there is no alternative. Till random testing is done, a proper strategy is formed.... The government is yet to come up with a plan on how to re-open shops. It is the result of the State’s lack of preparedness that many policemen, health workers, doctors, nurses and journalists have tested positive. The government promised but has not given a single penny to the kin of the safai karmacharis who died.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 9:55:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/yogi-adityanath-government-misleading-people-on-covid-19-numbers-says-up-congress-chief/article31463031.ece

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